Nov 032010
 
 November 3, 2010  Breaches, Court, Non-U.S.

The High Court has ruled there was no breach, in reports and broadcasts by three media organisations, of the right to privacy of two children who was sexually abused.

The children had claimed that reports in the media of the conviction of a man who had attacked both her and another child resulted in their being identified, which amounted to a breached their constitutional right to privacy.

It was claimed that the publication had “a catastrophic effect” on the victims and led to them having to leave their home.

Today Mr Justice John Hedigan said in dismissing the action held that the media outlets had not violated the victims’ right to privacy.

Read more on BreakingNews.ie

This strikes me as one of those “just because you can doesn’t mean you should” situations. Assuming that the judge is correct and that the media broke no laws, could no one really have foreseen that the victims might be identified? The news story states:

It was certain details used in the reports and broadcasts – including the name, age and address of the convicted man, plus the dates when the offences occurred – had resulted in their being widely identified in their locality.

This situation is precisely why I remain concerned about certain databases, even when they are supposedly “anonymized.” There are some combinations of details that may lead to identification even when those compiling the database or reporters do not think that there is a reasonable likelihood of identifying specific individuals.

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