When a UK publication exposed former FIA president Max Mosley in a sex video with two women dressed in what were described as Nazi prison guard uniforms, the effect on Mosley’s personal and professional life was immediate and profound. Rather than slink off, though, Mosley took the fight to the media and became an active proponent of protecting privacy. He did not stop at just suing the publication, though. Last month, the European Court of Human Rights heard his case for tighter media controls and more privacy protections.
The Guardian has published an exchange of ideas between Mosley and journalism professor Roy Greenslade with reporter Emine Saner throwing in an occasional question. It makes for interesting reading. I just want to quote one snippet of the conversation here, as a reminder that privacy invasions or privacy violations can cause harm:
MM: There I was, particularly when I became president of the FIA, doing all sorts of “do-gooding” things, the stuff I did for road safety, for instance. You try very hard, and you’re getting to the end of [your career]. Then somebody comes along and exposes an element of your private life which you have always kept secret, which then labels you for the rest of your life and brushes aside all of the serious things you have done. Then, when you look into it, you find people whose lives have been ruined – and some have killed themselves – because their private lives were exposed. If you’re an average person, if you sue, you risk losing everything. Even if you win, you lose money. I won, and even after I got the damages, it still cost £30,000. Most people can’t afford to throw away £30,000, never mind £1m, which is what it would cost if they lost. What [tabloid papers] do to people is wicked. So I thought, it’s time somebody did this. Fortunately, I’ve got the money to do it, and I was reasonably au fait with the law. How long would it be before they picked on another person? Obviously it’s satisfying to stick it to the News of the World, but that’s very much a side issue.
Read more in the Guardian.