Both the right to freedom of expression, including the public’s right to be informed by the press, and the right to privacy enjoy a high degree of protection. Although both human rights, they are by no means absolute. Notwithstanding the public’s interest in the lives of certain individuals, the dissemination of this information should not always come at the cost of invading their privacy. Journalists must therefore make a careful assessment when performing their reporting duties in order to decide which right should be granted prevalence in a given situation.
Even though the European Court of Human Rights, through its case law, has interpreted the scope and relation of both rights, the decision will nevertheless also depend on the traditions of the country in which the journalists operate. Moreover, within Europe, journalists must also take into account data protection regulation, which safeguards individuals against certain acts in which their data is being processed.
This map aims to aid the journalist in making this assessment.
- Does your constitutional law protect the right to privacy and the right to freedom of expression?
- Does your country’s penal code have any provisions related to the privacy of individuals? And if so, do these provisions provide a stricter or more lenient regime for journalists?
- Which exemption regime is applicable to the journalistic trade in your country’s Privacy and Data Protection legislation?
- Are there any state, co- or self-regulated organs within your country that regulate the journalistic profession?
- Do these organs issue ethical guidelines concerning the use of private information of individuals?
- Is there a public organ which deals with the complaints of citizens when they feel their right to privacy has been infringed by the media?
- In case-law, is privacy subject to a higher threshold of protection when criminal matters are concerned?
- Is there a difference of perception among the following categories of people: unknown individuals, celebrities and public persons (state officials, politicians)?