A Right of Privacy for Corporations?
Intellectual Property and Human Rights, 2008
39 Pages Posted: 16 May 2014
Date Written: July 2008
Breach of confidence has become the primary common law vehicle through which English courts protect privacy, a development which has been driven by the European Convention on Human Rights (‘ECHR’), in particular article 8, and the Human Rights Act 1998 (‘HRA’), in particular sections 6 and 12. Whether one takes the view that English law now recognises a ‘tort of misuse of private information’ or simply an ‘extended’ form of breach of confidence in relation to private information, an important, and unanswered, question is whether the scope of this protection extends, or should extend, to corporate entities.
This article argues (in Section I) that, as the law of confidence now stands, corporations do not have a right of privacy and that there is little legal imperative, either from Strasbourg jurisprudence (see Section II) or from other common law jurisdictions, (see section III), for the courts to develop such a right. Further, there are significant objections to recognising such a right (discussed in section IV). To the extent that a right of privacy protects human dignity and autonomy, corporate entities do not have these qualities and to the extent that privacy may be associated with other types of interests existing law adequately protects these.
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