McNally suggests privacy legislation
Padraig Reidy: Should we object to legislation on privacy?
17 Aug 10

Justice Minister Lord McNally seems to have suggested that the government will introduce new legislation on privacy.

In a report in the Daily Telegraph, McNally is quoted as saying:

[Super-injunctions are] “something that has grown up by stealth, rather than by considered desire of Parliament and therefore they will be in the sights when they look at the reform of the law”.

The report continues:
The new legislation would be a “consolidation” and “clarification” of the case law that will “hopefully remove some of the more onerous aspects of the way that case law has grown up”.
It’s always a concern when governments suggest laws that could restrict free expression. However, it is a fact that through the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act, the right to privacy does exist in English law, and judges must bear this in mind.

Index has always argued that if laws are to be made concerning free expression, it is better they emerge from proper democratic debate, rather than complex and sometimes contradictory court rulings that leave both the press and the public unsure of their rights and responsibilities.

Hence, we should not entirely shun the idea of privacy legislation, so long as that legislation is based on the presumption of free expression as a principle right.

By Padraig Reidy

Padraig Reidy is the editor of Little Atoms and a columnist for Index on Censorship. He has also written for The Observer, The Guardian, and The Irish Times.