Members of the media have a duty to disseminate information and inform the public regarding all matters of public interest, which the public also has a right to receive.
However, journalists’ right to freedom of expression is not absolute as they have to respect the right to privacy, meaning that everyone, i.e. private and public figures, have the right to live privately away from unwanted attention. Relationships, medical conditions, home addresses, sexual activities fall within the sphere of private life.
As a general rule, personal information should not be made public without the consent of the concerned person. Nonetheless, information about individuals can also be published without consent if there is an overriding public interest. This means that journalists may publish personal information when it is justified by a general concern, namely when the news report could contribute to a debate in the public interest.
Public interest areas include misuse of public office, improper use of public money, protection of public health, safety and environment, protection of national security, crime and similar political and socio-economic topics.
Guidelines on safeguarding privacy in the media deals with all these issues, mainly by referring to the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights. The guidelines aim to be an instrument of practical advice to media professionals.
The second part of the publication concerns the application of data protection principles in the context of journalism.
The English and French versions of the publication can be ordered via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Council of Europe