Monday March 27 , 2017

Privacy laws

Privacy law is the area of law concerned with the security and conservation of the privacy rights of individuals.

Ever more, governments and other public as well as private organizations collect vast amounts of personal information about individuals for a selection of purposes. The law of privacy regulates the type of information which may be collected and how this information may be used.

The scope of applicability of privacy laws is called expectation of privacy.

Classification of privacy laws

Privacy laws can be broadly classified into:

General privacy laws have an overall behavior on the personal information of persons and affect the policies that govern many dissimilar areas of information.
Specific privacy laws

These laws are designed to regulate specific types of information. Some examples include:

  • Health privacy laws
  • Financial privacy laws
  • Online privacy laws
  • Communication privacy laws
  • Information privacy laws
  • Privacy in one's home

Privacy in English law

Privacy in English law is a rapidly developing area of English law that judges in what situations an individual has a legal right to informational privacy, that is to say the protection of personal (or private) information from misuse or unauthorised disclosure. Privacy law is separate from those laws such as trespass or assault that are designed to protect physical privacy. Such laws are generally considered as part of criminal law or the law of tort. Historically, English common law has recognised no general right or tort of privacy, and was offered only limited protection through the doctrine of breach of confidence and a "piecemeal" compilation of related legislation on topics like harassment and data protection. The introduction of the Human Rights Act 1998 incorporated into English law the European Convention on Human Rights. Article 8.1 of the ECHR provided an explicit right to respect for a private life for the first time within English law. The Convention also requires the judiciary to "have regard" to the Convention in rising the common law.


The earliest definition of privacy in English law was given by Judge Cooley who defined privacy as "the right to be left alone". In 1972 the Younger Committee, an inquiry into privacy stated that the term could not be defined satisfactorily. Again in 1990 the Calcutt Committee concluded that: "nowhere have we found a wholly acceptable statutory definition of privacy".

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