The Full Wiki

Privacy law: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Privacy law is the area of law concerned with the protection and preservation of the privacy rights of individuals. Increasingly, governments and other public as well as private organizations collect vast amounts of personal information about individuals for a variety of purposes. The law of privacy regulates the type of information which may be collected and how this information may be used.

The scope of applicability of privacy laws is called expectation of privacy.


Classification of privacy laws

Privacy laws can be broadly classified into:

General privacy laws have an overall bearing on the personal information of individuals and affect the policies that govern many different areas of information.


Specific privacy laws

These laws are designed to regulate specific types of information. Some examples include:

  • Health privacy laws
  • Financial privacy laws
  • Online privacy laws
  • Communication privacy laws
  • Information privacy laws
  • Privacy in one's home

Privacy laws by country


In Australia, the federal Privacy Act 1988 sets out principles in relation to the collection, use, disclosure, security and access to personal information. The Act applies to the Australian Government and Australian Capital Territory agencies and private sector organisations (except some small businesses). The Office of the Privacy Commissioner is the complaints handler for alleged breaches of the Act. Some Australian States have enacted privacy laws.

The Australian Law Reform Commission [1]completed an inquiry into the state of Australia's privacy laws in 2008. The Report entitled For Your Information: Australian Privacy Law and Practice [2] recommended significant changes be made to the Privacy Act, as well as the introduction of a statutory cause of action for breach of privacy [3]. The Australian Government committed in October 2009 to implementing a large number of the recommendations that the Australian Law Reform Commission had made in its report [4].


In Canada, the federal 'Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) governs the collection, use and disclosure of personal information in connection with commercial activities and personal information about employees of federal works, undertakings and businesses. It generally does not apply to non-commercial organizations or provincial governments. Personal information collected, used and disclosed by the federal government and many crown corporations is governed by the Privacy Act. Many provinces have enacted similar provincial legislation such as the Ontario Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act which applies to public bodies in that province.

There remains some debate whether there exists a common law tort for breach of privacy. There have been a number of cases identifying a common law right to privacy but the requirements have not been articulated.[1]

In Eastmond v. Canadian Pacific Railway & Privacy Commissioner of Canada[2] Canada's Supreme Court found that CP could collect Eastmond's personal information without his knowledge or consent because it benefited from the exemption in paragraph 7(1)(b) of PIPEDA, which provides that personal information can be collected without consent if "it is reasonable to expect that the collection with the knowledge or consent of the individual would compromise the availability or the accuracy of the information and the collection is reasonable for purposes related to investigating a breach of an agreement".[2]

United Kingdom

As a member of the European Convention on Human Rights, the United Kingdom adheres to Article 8 ECHR, which guarantees a "right to respect for privacy and family life", subject to restrictions as prescribed by law and necessary in a democratic society towards a legitimate aim.

However, there is no independent tort law doctrine which recognises a right to privacy. This has been confirmed on a number of occasions.

United States

The idea of a right to privacy was first addressed within a legal context in the United States. Louis Brandeis (later a Supreme Court justice) and another young lawyer, Samuel D. Warren, published an article called 'The Right to Privacy' in the Harvard Law Review in 1890 arguing that the constitution and the common law allowed for the deduction of a general "right to privacy".[4] Their project was never entirely successful, and the renowned tort expert Dean Prosser argued that "privacy" was composed of four separate torts, the only unifying element of which was a (vague) "right to be left alone."[5] These elements were

  1. appropriating the plaintiff's identity for the defendant's benefit
  2. placing the plaintiff in a false light in the public eye
  3. publicly disclosing private facts about the plaintiff
  4. unreasonably intruding upon the seclusion or solitude of the plaintiff


Applicable legislation:

  1. Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data, signed and ratified by the Russian Federation on December, 19 2005;
  2. the Law of the Russian Federation “On Personal Data” as of 27.07.2006 No. 152-FZ, regulating the processing of personal data by means of automation equipment. It is the operator who is required to comply with that Act.

As a general rule consent of the individual is required for processing, i.e. obtaining, organizing, accumulating, holding, adjusting (updating, modifying), using, disclosing (including transfer), impersonating, blocking or destroying of his personal data. This rule doesn't apply where such processing is necessary for performance of the contract, to which an individual is a party.


Computer Processed Personal Information Protection Act was enacted in 1995 in order to protect personal information processed by computers. The general provision specified the purpose of the law, defined crucial terms, prohibited individuals from waiving certain rights.

See also



  1. ^ See for example, Somwar v. McDonald's Restaurants of Canada Ltd, [2006] O.J. No. 64 for a discussion on this
  2. ^ a b Eastmond v. Canadian Pacific Railway & Privacy Commissioner of Canada, June 11, 2004
  3. ^ Law Resources
  4. ^ Warren and Brandeis (December 15, 1890). "The Right to Privacy". Harvard Law Review IV (5): 193. 
  5. ^ Dean Prosser, 'Privacy' (1960) 48 California Law Review 383


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address