Right to Privacy: Unreasonable Intrusion Upon Seclusion

When a person expects privacy, any intentional intrusion into the private affairs of another constitutes a violation of a person’s right to privacy.

The act that is considered offensive in this instance is the deliberate and intentional act of intrusion into the private affairs of another, regardless of whether or not those privates information or facts were later on made known to the public. No publication is necessary.

This particular area or tort law has had a healthy jurisprudential development and has been taken to cover any physical or electronic intrusion upon the private space or solitude of another person, or their private affairs or concerns. If by some form of investigation or examination, a person observes or overhears, either through the use of their physical senses or with the aid of any electronic equipment, where any person has a reasonable right to privacy, a wrong has occurred and the plaintiff has a cause of action and legal recourse against the person violating his or her privacy or seclusion.

And unlike the protection is given journalists in the publication of newsworthy information vs the public disclosure of private information, this right against unreasonable intrusion also covers journalists and reporters. This is because, while the law does safeguard the public’s right to know matters that are generally considered of public concern, thus lending protection to journalists for the public disclosure of what would otherwise be considered private information, the law does not protect journalists or reporters or any private person from being prosecuted for trespass, whether physical or electronic, into the private domain of another.

In all of these instances, another factor to consider is the plaintiff’s reasonable expectation of privacy. Also, the invasion or intrusion must be considered by any reasonable person to be offensive, and that the said intrusion has caused mental anguish and suffering to the plaintiff. Mere discomfort or embarrassment is not sufficient. If it involves physical trespass and intentional intrusion into a very private matter, then the right of privacy has been violated.

Mental anguish and suffering that is the result of such an intrusion into one’s private affairs will determine, to a large extent, the kind and amount of damages that a plaintiff is entitled to.

On the other hand, one possible defense to a tort claim for damages for violation of privacy due to unreasonable intrusion into the seclusion of a person is consent. If it can be shown that the person has consented, whether expressly or implied, to the intentional gathering of private facts by a person about another person, when that person is legally capable of giving consent, then it is possible that you did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy or seclusion after all. That means that there has been no violation of privacy that would make the matter fall under this tort claim.

In recent years, one of the most common examples of this kind of tort is hacking. Thus, a person has a reasonable right to keep files and information private, especially if they are protected by a password. When a hacker seeks to break into a person’s private account to have access to a person’s private information, then it is a violation of privacy falling squarely under this tort.