Has Privacy Law Gone Mad in France and United Kingdom?
Are the French out of their minds to enable such prosecution of publicly available scenes? Further when an Irish Daily Star printed pictures of the Duchess the same photographs, it’s UK parent company was furious and reprimanded it and seems to have some threatened action. I understand that Buckingham Palace was also angry. The Editor of French Closer defended publishing the snaps insisting that she will fight the legal action arguing that William and Kate were easily visible from a public road and that the snaps were tasteful and of great interest to the public.
Why did the establishment of these two nations yield privacies to individuals who are in the public interest and are clearly publicly displaying themselves to court publicity with their behaviour and openly lending themselves to photography and report for the titillation or information of the public interested in them? It is impossible to consider that the Royals did not know that the paparazzi would be after photographing them with their long camera lenses. People who wish privacy do not talk in public and as far as their personal appearance is concerned dress properly and fog their bathroom windows to prevent peeping toms and press taking photographs of ladies and men bathing in private. If they are visible to the public in their behaviour it means that they do not mind the publicity that this might generate. In such circumstances if we are photographed we should have recourse to law and damages for infringement of our privacies. Otherwise we should all be treated as public bodies and have no right to privacy when displaying ourselves to the world and interacting with our fellow citizens.
What is wrong if people want to see the size of breasts that the Duchess has if the information is available and thus decide what motivated William to select this woman as his wife and to become the Queen of England at the taxpayer’s expense? People have a need to see proof that the Duchess Kate believes in sunbathing topless outside their homes even as a future Queen of the United Kingdom, and secondly that she must have been advised (as we all know anyway) that celebrities might get photographed by a long distance photographer if she does so so that her judgement is called into question as well. On both counts the matter is in the public interest and the photographs ought to be published in the United Kingdom so that people may judge the Royal Family that is fund from our taxes. The manner in which they perform their duties for the State is a matter of taste and will influence the decision of the electorate on whether to retain the Royal Family at all. Everything they do must be open to scrutiny. They should know that they are servants of the state just like any other person and deserve no privileges from their Royalty. If I can be photographed and publicised in whatever I do so can they.
Why should a photographer have a right to see the photographs and people in Italy and Ireland have a right to see them and not me? It can only mean that the Royals are only concerned about their image in the British population and will deprive the population of their true nature and intentions just to project a specific image of themselves, and not show the truth. People have a need to see proof that the Duchess Kate believes in sunbathing topless outside their homes even as a future Queen of the United Kingdom, and secondly that she must have been advised (as we all know anyway) that celebrities might get photographed by a long distance photographer if she does so so that her judgement is called into question as well. On both counts the matter is in the public interest and the photographs ought to be published in the United Kingdom so that people may judge the Royal Family that is fund from our taxes. The manner in which they perform their duties for the State is a matter of taste and will influence the decision of the electorate on whether to retain the Royal Family at all. Everything they do must be open to scrutiny. They should know that they are servants of the state just like any other person and deserve no privileges from their Royalty. If I can be photographed and publicised in whatever I do so can they.
It is argued that there is a difference between what interests the public and what is in the public interest. So who decides what is in the public interest? It has to be the electorate.
When I as part of the long suffering British public continue to live under the parasitical and undemocratic institution of monarchy I insist on my right to examine all aspects of the Royals conduct at every stage of the proceedings because I pay for the existence of that family. The fact that they sought an injunction to stop the photographs being printed elsewhere is in itself grotesque deprivation of the British public’s right to know, as well as as an infringement of democracy that Parliament was not consulted to stop the legal proceedings. Yes, I am a Republican who wishes to convert the status of the Royal family into that of being a servant of the state rather than the constitutional Head. They have to conform to the wishes of the people. Accordingly, the electorate in the UK should have been consulted in Parliament on whether the Royal Family have a legal right to independently pursue the case in the French court.But we will never know if Parliament is not consulted will we. These Royals do not want that.
The State needs to answer the public’s concern that the heirs to the British throne are not advised to follow some etiquette in the manner of their holidaying activities away from their home in a foreign country. If they did not know that they would be photographed by a long distance photographer they were just plain stupid. If they knew that they could be photographed by a long distance photographer then they did not really care enough about their privacy and the ensuing protest and court case was just a cover to get themselves more publicity and thus a calculated move to divert attention at the very least. Whichever option you choose to defend them they have failed to make a convincing case to account for themselves. They think they are above the law and do not have to present any State-imposed conduct concerning their public behaviour. That is why Parliament must consider the entire matter in a Public Enquiry, to focus on all issues including the decision by the Royal Family to pursue the court case. The terms of reference for the Public Enquiry should be to consider whether the Royals are guilty of bringing the United Kingdom into disrepute by their actions on
(a) being negligent in their public duties by allowing themselves to be photographed in that manner; and
(b) for pursuing the privacy case in the French court thus putting their self interest ahead of the national interest of free and uncensored press.
If found guilty they should be given a warning as to their future conduct in relation to their automatic right to the positions of King and Queen of England. The chances of a Public Enquiry is virtually nill because of the same understanding of privacy laws, I presume, although it could be argued by lawyers that this is not constitutionally permissible. Whatever the reason the net effect is that truth is suppressed and the Royals go along their own merry ways.
At a wider level the law needs to be changed because we are all human beings interacting with each other in order to chart the best course for humanity. We need to know about each other. We should not be so coy about privacy when we are exposing ourselves all the time in other ways. I know that some women have so much self-dignity that they are embarrassed showing their breasts even to their husbands after even long years of marriage. Some consider them as just prudes. Whatever the case the public is entitled to know that such women exist and likewise the fact that the Royals do not have the same sense of public decency in their personal and public lives. It is a matter of public interest. It is knowledge that we use to learn about each other. It is science and human evolution to study facts. Censorship is covering up the truth and against the public interest no matter what the topic and subject so long as the people have taken adequate precautions to hide their appearance and views. Privacy laws are therefore just plain mad.
27 June 2014 Update:
Phone hacking by journalists
Andy Coulson has this week been found guilty in the Old Bailey Criminal Court of phone hacking when working for News International which is therefore now confirmed as being a criminal offence. An old and much loved newspaper, News of the World was forced to terminate operations when this practice of the journalists came to light. Earlier a private investigator working for News International was imprisoned for intercepting phone messages in what became known as the phone hacking scandal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glenn_Mulcaire). This issue relates to the privacy that citizens enjoy in the United Kingdom. A Leveson public enquiry was constituted which made strong recommendations on press regulation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leveson_Inquiry).
I do not think that phone hacking by journalists to probe into conversations on the telephone or by other means should be a criminal offence in a democracy in which press should have the right to investigative stories and identify wrong doing in society for reporting in the newspapers and other media outlets. The law on privacy should be amended because it is necessary that journalists have the ability to report what citizens get up to. For the same reason the Police should have the ability to investigate citizens using such methods.
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First published in Blog: https://shantanup.wordpress.com September 17, 2012 - Posted by shantanup | Uncategorized