Shatter announces intent to revisit Privacy Law

Speaking today the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter TD, said:

“Despite the existence of our Press Council and reasonable principles which the print media are expected to follow, it is clear that some sections of the print media are either unable or unwilling in their reportage to distinguish between “prurient interest” and “the public interest”. This detrimentally impacts upon the lives of both public personalities and private individuals and it seems that no value of any nature is attached to an individual’s right to privacy, a right recognised by the Constitution and by the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

“It is perceived financial gain as opposed to any principled freedom of expression that for some is the dominant value. The publication by the Irish Daily Star in Ireland of topless photographs of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, is a clear illustration of this. It is clear that sections of the print media believe that public figures are fair game and have no right to privacy in respect of any aspect of their lives.

“It is my intention to revisit the provisions of the Privacy Bill 2006 which was reinstated to the Seanad Order paper following the formation of the Government, to consider what changes should be made to it in the context of developments that have taken place since its first publication and to then progress its enactment. What is needed is balanced legislation that does nothing to inhibit proper investigative journalism, the reporting of news and the expression of opinion on issues of genuine public interest in a manner that respects the ethos and values of a constitutional democracy but which also prevents the abuse of an individual’s human rights and flagrant violation of an individual’s right to privacy.”