Right to Privacy

Members of the public have a right to privacy, free from invasion by the media. However, new digital technologies and the traditional right of the press to report news make this concept difficult to pinpoint in practice. Even defining privacy is a contentious issue. Two commonly accepted versions are "a kind of space that a man may carry with him into his bedroom or into the street" and "the right to be let alone."

A member of the public can sue a reporter or media outlet for invasion of privacy. It can result in significant compensatory and punitive damages. The problem is more common now with electronic eavesdropping, telephoto lenses and the use of cameras in smartphones and other mobile devices.

Generally, invasion of privacy is centered on four areas:

  • intruding on someone's seclusion
  • identity theft
  • disclosing embarrassing facts about a person's private life
  • putting a person in a false light by skewing facts or reporting lies

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