23 April 2011

Super-injunctions and "privacy law"

The tabloid newspapers in the UK have made a lot of comment in the last week on judicial decisions to grant super-injunctions on the alleged infidelities of certain high-profile figures.

They're arguing that these judges are acting against freedom of speech, but I'm not entirely sure that there isn't some ulterior motive; selling newspapers.

Freedom of speech to me is about freedom of opinion and the right to express that opinion, also the right to expose governmental corruption and ensure that the public can make an informed decision at election time. I'm not entirely sure that the creators of the European Court of Human Rights, or for that matter, the US Constitution, were exactly envisaging their rights being used to spread salacious gossip and muck-raking.

I'd like to run a hypothetical past you:

Caitlin is an attractive newsreader for a major television channel. She is married to Bob and they have two primary-school age children.

Caitlin had a brief affair with struggling model Andrew, for reasons we won't go into here. Eventually, Caitlin couldn't live with herself and confessed everything to Bob. Bob has forgiven her and the two are trying to rebuild their marriage.

Now Andrew is trying to sell his story to a newspaper.

Now, here's some questions: is it really fair to expose Caitlin, Bob, their two children and all their friends and families to massive media intrusion, as well as the lurid details of Andrew and Caitlin's affair? Whose interest does it serve?

Also, while celebrities voluntary expose themselves to the media eye, but are they not entitled to a private life as well?

Please leave your thoughts below.

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