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Cover Tort Law Directions

16. Privacy and misuse of private information  

Without assuming prior legal knowledge, books in the Directions series introduce and guide readers through key points of law and legal debate. Questions, diagrams, and exercises help readers to engage fully with each subject and check their understanding as they progress. The Calcutt Committee Report on Privacy and Related Matters (1990) defined privacy as ‘the right of the individual to be protected against intrusion into his personal life or affairs, or those of his family, by direct physical means or by publication of information’. While a number of different torts indirectly address wrongful intrusion into another’s privacy, English law has not directly protected privacy in its own right. It was the Human Rights Act 1998 that has made it possible to use breach of confidence in regulating the publication of private information. This chapter looks at the history of the protection of privacy in English law, discusses the current legal approaches to privacy, examines the impact of the Human Rights Act 1998 on this developing area of law, and evaluates English law on privacy in an international context.