media law on privacy

Essay by blingin_keishaCollege, UndergraduateB-, March 2007

download word file, 9 pages 3.0

The law surrounding privacy has stayed on a rather unstable path. Following the Human Rights Act 1998 coming into force, it is still emerging with considerable uncertainty in the law of confidence. So far, the common law has not recognized an enforceable right to privacy as a cause of action per se. In English law, there was no tort or civil wrong on the invasion of privacy. Hence, there is no absolute right to keep personal information confidential that it is by the court to decide in what circumstances privacy should prevail over public interest.

Long ago, the 1990 Calcutt Committee was of the same opinion with the Younger Committee in its 1972 Report that privacy was not capable of being satisfactorily defined, but finally assumed a working definition with reference to the media. Fundamentally, privacy can be identified as ‘the right of the individual to be protected against intrusion into his personal life or affairs, or those of his family, by direct physical means or by publication of information’.

In R v Broadcasting Standards Commission ex parte BBC, Lord Mustill gave his opinion that ‘privacy of a human being denotes the personal space in which the individual is free to be itself… which protects that space from intrusion’. Yet, at the present time, there is still no definition of the concept of ‘privacy’ in the law of England and Wales.

Although English Law does not presently enforce a general right to privacy, it does afford protection to various interests which may be categorized as aspects of ‘privacy’. They are, for instance, the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, Protection from Harassment Act 1997, Data Protection Act 1998, Interception of Communications Act 1985, Press Complaints Commission Codes of Practice as well as reporting restrictions imposed on the media by...