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By Snezana Vojvodic and Sally Head of Gadens Lawyers, Sydney
As the internet continues to increase the speed and breadth of information sharing, the disclosure of information about friends, colleagues and public figures has become increasingly easy. It follows that violations of an individual’s right to privacy is also on the rise.
On 14 August 2009, the NSW Law Reform Commission (Commission) released a report recommending the introduction of legislation dealing with invasion of an individual’s privacy and providing mechanisms to protect individuals. This has ramifications for individuals and businesses in dealing with people’s personal information and profile.
Who will be entitled to sue?
If the recommendations are introduced, an individual will be able to sue any person who invades the privacy that individual might reasonably be entitled to expect having regard to the public interest.
When determining whether an individual’s privacy has been invaded, the Commission recommends that the following matters be taken into account.
Introduction of the recommendations may provide the likes of Kate Ritchie and Sonny Bill Williams with a statutory cause of action against individuals who distribute details of their private lives captured on a mobile phone camera. Distributing a sex tape or disclosing details of an affair could also be caught by the proposed laws.
What defences are available to defendants?
An individual’s privacy will not be invaded in the following circumstances.
Examples could include publishing details of an NRL player’s late night activities (unless those activities impact on the player’s ability to perform his job), or unmasking the identity of illegal music downloaders.
What remedies are available to plaintiffs?
The Commission proposes that the Court be able to order any of the following.
The Invasion of Privacy report can be viewed here.
This publication is provided to clients and correspondents for their information on a complimentary basis. It represents a brief summary of the law applicable as at the date of publication and should not be relied on as a definitive or complete statement of the relevant laws.