Thursday, 23 June 2005
Michael McDowell (Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
No, it is possible to have two points of view. One of them is that privacy is a very complicated issue. For example, at one level, one could claim the intrusion into Leas Cross nursing home was a breach of patient privacy whereas at another level, it could be claimed it was in the public interest that the information should be published.
How, in a statute, to work out the exact line of demarcation between what is acceptable and what is not is a matter that will undoubtedly cause difficulty. However, by the same token, the programme for Government intends, in the context of a statutory protection of privacy, that defamation reform will proceed. The Attorney General and I will be able to put together a privacy law that will not be overly prescriptive but will make it clear that breach of privacy which is not lawful or constitutional by other considerations should be actionable.
This is necessary because many current cases lead people to wonder exactly where the law of privacy does and does not run. There has been English jurisprudence concerning supermodels being photographed in gyms and so on and a case involving Princess Caroline of Monaco and the German press, which hounded her and published photographs of her day-to-day existence.