About the Right of Privacy
Some people prefer to keep details of their lives as confidential as possible. Of course, your name may show up in public records sometimes, but there are limits. In some cases, you may have a constitutional right to privacy. When someone releases your confidential information without permission, you might suffer damages. And, when someone injures you, a personal injury claim is a distinct possibility to compensate you for your problems and potentially stop the party that invaded your life in some way.
There are several common types of right-to-private claims.
Intrusion Upon Seclusion
According to the Restatement (Second) of Torts, this happens when:
“One who intentionally intrudes, physically or otherwise, upon the solitude or seclusion of another, or his private affairs or concerns, is subject to liability to the other for invasion of his privacy if the intrusion would be highly offensive to a reasonable person.”
This means that someone interferes with another person's reasonable right of privacy. This tort covers a wide range of activities, from physically entering a person's space, opening private mail, or eavesdropping.
Appropriation of Name or Likeness and Your Right to Privacy
Someone who uses your name or likeness has violated your right of privacy. Generally, people are allowed the exclusive use of your name, identity, and image. Often, this form of privacy violation occurs in advertising. For example, a business might use your name in an advertisement without your permission. Not only can this be distressing and harm your reputation, but it also violates your right to control this type of personal information.
Publicity Given to Private Life
This violation of the right of privacy is tricky, in part because of our right to free speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Publicizing facts that are already in the public record, might not be considered an invasion of privacy.
However, what really matters is whether information about you was given to a small group of people or widely publicized. For example, someone who reveals facts about you in a magazine or online might be considered an invasion of privacy.
Publicity Placing a Person in a False Light
This privacy-related issue is similar to defamation, which is in itself a tort. Intentionally or unintentionally revealing information about a person could be considered a false light claim if the information is:
- Highly offensive,
- Embarrassing to any reasonable person, and
- Published with a reckless disregard to how offensive it might be.
One interesting difference between defamation and false light claims is that a false light claim does not have to include an actual statement. Merely showing an image or photograph of a person in a way that leads to false impressions can be a violation of your right of privacy.