Privacy - Data Protection Act
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Although there is no specific right to privacy in the UK,
increased media attention is leading an increasing number of celebrities to
assert their right to privacy. As a result, existing laws are evolving. Whether
they will prove to be sufficiently flexible remains to be seen, but for now
there is no growing pressure on the UK courts or Parliament to develop a
free-standing privacy right.
Legal provisions providing privacy include:
- breach of confidence;
- human rights legislation;
- Data Protection Act 1998; and
- various industry codes.
This article looks at the Data Protection Act 1998 only.
Data Protection Act 1998
The DPA requires those who process personal data to do so fairly and lawfully
and only if certain pre-requisites exist: for example, the consent of the
individual concerned. An individual who suffers damage or distress as a result
of a breach of the DPA is entitled to compensation under the DPA. The Campbell
case established that publication of a photograph of an individual is
'processing personal data' for the purposes of the DPA.
The DPA provides a defence applicable to journalistic,
literary or artistic material, provided the person who processes the data (for
example, the newspaper that publishes the photograph) reasonably believes that,
having regard, in particular, to the special importance of the public interest
in freedom of expression, publication would be in the public interest.
In the Campbell case, the Court of Appeal allowed the public
interest defence, and Campbell's claim failed. (On appeal to the House of Lords,
this aspect of the claim was not pursued as the parties agreed that this claim
stood or fell with the main claim, namely, breach of confidence.) However, the
public interest defence will not always be so easy to make out. The Court in
Douglas v Hello! held that the processing (particularly the publication) of the
wedding photographs was not fair under the Act, there was no public interest in
the unauthorised photographs and there had been a breach of the requirements of
the Act. However, the judge in that case said that this did not add an
additional route to recovery for damage or distress beyond a nominal award.
Jariwalla is a solicitor who specialises in intellectual property
law and commercial litigation.
About the Author
Lawdit Solicitors offer services and
advice for litigation, commercial contracts, Intellectual Property and IT legal
agreements. We are experts in commercial law with a heavy emphasis on
Intellectual Property, Internet and e-commerce law. Lawdit is a member of the
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Advocates and we are the appointed Solicitors to the largest webdesign
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2008-05-28 23:24:10 in Legal Articles