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About this book

Published in conjunction with the International Bar Association, this high-profile collection of writings brings together judicial, legislative, regulatory, journalistic and academic perspectives on the current state of media laws in the UK and in the US, scrutinising their efficacy in relation to the rights for privacy and free expression.

Table of Contents

Part I The Legal, Ethical and Editorial Landscape


Chapter 1. Privacy: A Judicial Perspective

Towards the end of the 20th century, there developed in most of the ‘western’ democracies a concern to protect personal privacy and, if possible, by means of enforceable legal remedies. There were a number of factors underlying this general trend, some driven by technological developments in the handling and dissemination of information, others by more elusive social or moral considerations. There were naturally worries about the need to limit state intrusion into the lives of citizens and to safeguard the information nowadays inevitably generated in the course of conducting those lives in a complex and closely regulated society.
David Eady

Chapter 2. The Rights of Journalism and the Needs of Audiences*

In Tom Stoppard’s play Night and Day,1 one character remarks to another: ‘I’m with you on the free press. It’s the newspapers I can’t stand.’ Discussions of the proper configuration of press freedom have not moved very far from this impasse in the 30 years since the play was published. This is evident in the fruitless reiteration of rival claims about supposed speech rights, both by those who think the media – at least the print media – should be self-regulating, and that anything else will lead to censorship, and by those who think that the media – including the print media – should be restricted or regulated in various ways.
Onora O’Neill

Chapter 3. Why We Write: Three Magic Words – ‘The Public Interest’

It was, it should be said, a canny move by Lord Justice Leveson. The judge quickly put 10,000 miles between himself and the cacophony of debate his Report left behind. As he lectured in Australia, Fleet Street was left to grapple with the detailed recommendations of a man who had spent a year examining the worst excesses of some newsrooms that were, we are all now agreed, out of control.
Alan Rusbridger

Part II The Practitioner’s View – Protecting Free Expression and Curbing Abuses


Chapter 4. The Ultimate Balancing Test

In a small town nestled in the Andalusian hills lies a closed order nunnery, one of the few in the world. One of its inhabitants has been there almost 60 years and has spoken to no one outside the Baroque tiled building in all that time. Recently she decided to feature in a documentary film which meant a camera crew was permitted to enter the building to observe her. It was the first time since her teenage years that she had interacted with anyone outside the order.
Pia Sarma

Chapter 5. Privacy Protection – Luxury Goods or Essential Commodity?

With approximately seven billion people on the planet, we all need some private time and space every now and again to be able to live cheek by jowl with our fellow man. To achieve this, we need clear and workable rules for privacy protection. These are not mere luxuries or optional accessories for the wealthy, but essential for every person in every culture.
Amber Melville-Brown

Chapter 6. ‘People are so much more interesting than things’: Protecting Free Expression

In 1885 the British constitutional theorist, AV Dicey, published his seminal treatise, An Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution. Chapter VI, ‘The Right to Freedom of Discussion’, famously identified this fundamental right as being ‘in England little else than the right to write or say anything which a jury, consisting of twelve shopkeepers, think it expedient should be said or written’.
Gavin Millar QC

Chapter 7. ‘You say tomato …’: A Comparison of English and US Privacy Law Principles

From remote sensing satellites to hidden ‘bra-cams’, technology is revealing all; and, with the click of a mouse, intimate details (and, of course, photographs) of Royals, celebrities, politicians and sportspeople are launched on news sites and social media platforms to millions across the globe. Privacy issues regularly crop up in more serious news fare as well. Witness the so-called Vatileaks scandal in May 2012, where the Vatican complained bitterly that books and news reports disclosing the details of leaked church records, including the Pope’s private correspondence, were a ‘violation of the Pope’s privacy’.1 The law races to catch up, with legislatures and jurists around the world trying to find an appropriate – and often elusive – balance between the individual’s right to be left alone and the public’s right to know.
Robert Balin, Yuli Takatsuki

Part III Confronting Current and Future Challenges


Chapter 8. Privacy and Free Expression: Competing or Complementary Rights?

The right to a private life and the right to freedom of expression are not only both fundamental, universal rights; they are also self-evidently important to almost all people in their daily lives – whether through their presence or their absence. They are strongly related rights. If state authorities, or other actors, are monitoring, recording, putting under surveillance, bugging or otherwise intruding into people’s lives, then freedom of expression is compromised. We behave differently when we know that a third party is recording, bugging or monitoring us. Surveillance is intended to intimidate and encourage self-censorship as well as control and inform those doing the monitoring.
Michael Harris, Kirsty Hughes

Chapter 9. The Internet as a Lens: Concepts of Privacy in Online Spaces

While most societies grant legal protection to expectations of privacy, such protection is rarely if ever absolute; privacy rights are generally limited both by the consent of the individual and by a range of competing values such as national security, effective law enforcement, and access to government records or information relevant to public issues. These values, and the way they limit privacy rights, are in many senses the ‘fingerprint’ of a given nation, reflecting a country’s particular balance between personal autonomy and public authority.
Jeffrey Hermes
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