Privacy-Related Crimes in Italian Law
50 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2016
Date Written: November 30, 2016
Since criminal law is usually considered a last resort for regulators, it provides a particularly focused lens through which to study privacy protection: privacy crimes are the most poignant forms of privacy infringements. This paper provides an overview of how privacy is protected through substantive criminal law in Italy. As part of a large-scale project on privacy protection in the 21st century, together with similar country studies, it will facilitate comparative legal analysis of privacy crimes (a relatively under-researched field), and also help to better understand privacy, as the forms and scope of privacy protection in criminal law tell us something about how privacy is conceptualised in law, and what legislators consider particularly protection-worthy in privacy.
This paper offers a comprehensive, descriptive overview of offences relating to spatial, personal, relational, and informational privacy. Particular emphasis is given to aspects of private life where socio-technological developments challenge privacy protection, and to the underlying rationale of criminalisation (the protected legal good, or Rechtsgut), as these provide insight into which aspect of privacy is essentially to be protected, which may be helpful in addressing challenges raised by socio-technological change. After an introduction into Italian criminal law, I describe a broad range of offences against places, computers, body and mind, reputation, secrets, and personal data. These provisions show that Italian criminal law reflects a rich concept of privacy as a fundamental and foundational legal good. Privacy is one of the main preconditions for people to lead their life the way they want and to develop and express their personality without undue constraints. Protection of privacy generally has a twofold character. It enables individuals to control who can take knowledge of aspects of their private life, through controlling access to the physical and digital spaces where their private life typically manifests itself, to their bodies and minds, and to the information contained in these environments and in communications and documents. And in situations where aspects of private life necessarily have to be disclosed to another, it ensures that this knowledge is not unduly divulged or spread further.
Keywords: privacy, criminal law, legal good, reserve, secrecy, trespass, hacking, stalking, interception, secret documents, data protection offences
JEL Classification: K14, K42, O38
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation