The purpose of this study is to examine the concept of privacy law as it applies to the field of journalism in UK. This study will focus on recent case studies in UK with an aim of demonstrating how the law relating to privacy affects the work of journalists. Privacy is a situation in which persons’ confidential information disclosed in a private place is not brought into public because, it can cause either emotional distress or embarrassment to the latter. The right of privacy mainly applies to those people in a place that somebody expects to be private. Example of private places includes hotel rooms, home and telephone booths among others. The privacy law can be applied in situations whereby, a person believes that the massage he or she ought to deriver is private and that it can only be heard by those acting in the presence of law. UK enacted privacy law on 2 October 2000. Several courts in UK enforced the privacy law after several incidents reported by various citizens, initially, the law was referred to as Data protection Act “DPA” and established purposely to ensure that both private and government agencies use personal data for specific and legitimate aims only. It also allowed people access to their confidential information, provide enough security for personal information, and to hinder the transfer of personal information to destinations lacking data protection laws. As we all know, that journalism is quite a sensitive field of work with regard to privacy law. Media acts as a tool for creating awareness to the public. In most case media focus on most sensitive incidents such as child abuse and neglect among others (Kenyon 2006. P. 14).
Placing information in media such as radio and TV’s calls for thorough scrutiny about the sources of information, this is to say that, journalists who are the key participants in media face challenges based on the provision of testimonies. In many cases, journalists must testify their sources of information. If it happens that the sources of information may not attributed to the public interest or deviates the law, journalists face charges from the privacy commissioners. Such commissioners do not rely on a complaint because they can carry out an investigation role to determine the level of quilt. The privacy commissioners have the right to decide the amount of money to be paid to the complaint as compensation. The other challenge facing journalists is that privacy law does not limit the amount to be paid.
In the process of publicizing personal data or information, journalists should concentrate on useful and reliable information from government sources. In the provided case study, it is true that Jimmy sunshine who was a TV presenter had tempered with Dot’s privacy. The privacy law states that there is no person supposed to publicize other personal data without their consent. I think Dot should not have consulted Jimmy Sunshine before proceeding to the court because this could not have changed her image in the public. The best thing that Dot could have done is to sue Jimmy sunshine because by so doing that, other presenters will learn how to observe privacy law (Hendrickx, 2003. P. 45) Copyright is among other areas that tend to impose restrictions on the work of journalists.
Privacy law tends to protect photography through copyright and moral rights. Private Law restricts Journalists through copyright not to publish certain photographs unless permitted by the authority. In UK, individuals have the right restricting journalists from publicizing photographs with information that should not be disclosed to the public. If the journalists have to take such photos, they should produce permit from the authority because privacy law through copyright safeguard people privacy. Below is an example of two case studies in which privacy law through copyright imposes a restriction on journalists’ work.
Case study 1 in UK: woman in a swimming pool.
Dorothy, a 24 years old woman, and a civil servant lives with her two children. In a servant quarter where she lives, there was a swimming pool shared by all the residents living in within the servant quarters. As Dorothy was swimming one afternoon, a journalist came and captured some photos without the Dorothy’s consents. The following day Dorothy got shocked to find her photo in the newspaper. In the photo, Dorothy was half way naked, something that irritated her. She talked the matter with her law Daniel who later sued the journalists against privacy. After the hearing, by the privacy commissioners, the commissioner found the journalist guilty and the commissioner ordered the journalist to compensate Dorothy for interfering with her privacy (Bar et.al 2004. P. 67).
Case study 2:
Esther Edward aged 27 years old and a mother of two was a single woman who was living in community housing. Her landlord Eliud Colin gave her an eviction notice that did not give reason for eviction. The eviction notice did not allow her to address the concern of the landlord. They arrived at an alternative agreement after her lawyer used Victorian Charted to negotiate with Eliud Colin the landlord. Afterwards, Bruno a journalist came and took some photos of Esther and her house. Late that day Esther learnt that the photos taken by the journalist were placed in press against her consent. Later on her lawyer filed a case against the journalist concerning the disclosure of Esther’s personal data. The journalist was found quilt by the privacy commissioner, and the commissioner ordered him to pay Esther $10 for compensation. This is to mean that privacy law through copyright imposed restrictions on the work of the journalist, (Great Britain, House of Commons, Parliament, Media and sport committee, 2010. P. 135). Conclusion
The above two case studies analyses the rights of privacy to all categories of individuals in UK. The two show how government agencies and private agencies ensure that personal data is made private. Violation of the privacy law is an offence and that a disciplinary action should be taken to all offenders being either journalist or not.