News

Do we need a right to privacy?


12 September 2011

What protections do we have against government and media intruding on our privacy?
What protections do we have against government and media intruding on our privacy?

An employer accesses your Facebook profile and rejects you for interview because of concerns about some of the photographs and opinions you have posted. Currently the law in Australia does not cover your rights or the employer's rights in this scenario.

The federal government has indicated its interest in creating new laws to deal with invasion of privacy. On 12 September Sydney Law School at the University of Sydney brings together some of Australia's foremost experts on privacy laws to discuss how the law can navigate the fine line between rights to privacy and fundamental freedoms of expression.

Associate Professor David Rolph, an expert in media and intellectual property law and a speaker at the event, said, "The recent phone-hacking scandals in the United Kingdom have thrust privacy laws into the spotlight but there are a numerous areas where the law is under pressure to catch up with current social reality.

"The filming of NSW minister David Campbell visiting a gay men's club and the allegations by a St Kilda schoolgirl against members of an AFL team and an AFL manager, accompanied by the posting of photos and video online, are recent examples which have provoked discussions about privacy.

"In many cases, the right to privacy of individuals affected by government or media intrusion is not well defined. Should victims of phone-hacking have a right to sue for invasion of privacy? Should you have a right to object to having your photograph taken and published, even if you are in a public place? Should you have a right to sue for invasion of privacy if someone 'outs' you or 'kisses and tells'?"

Joining Associate Professor Rolph in the panel-style debate, which will include questions from the floor, are:

  • Richard Ackland, journalist, media commentator and lawyer
  • Chris Merritt, The Australian newspaper's legal editor
  • Professor Barbara McDonald, Sydney Law School
  • Andrew Stone, Australian Lawyers Alliance Director and barrister
  • Tom Blackburn SC, barrister, Banco Chambers.

This event is co-presented by the Australian Lawyers Alliance.


Event details

What: Privacy forum: do we need a right to privacy? 

Where: Assembly Hall (entry level), University of Sydney Old Law School (Entry via Phillip or Elizabeth Streets, Sydney CBD)

When: 6pm, Monday 12 September

Cost: Free, with refreshments provided


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Media enquiries: Verity Leatherdale, 9351 4312, 0419 278 715, verity.leatherdale@sydney.edu.au