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Monday, November 02, 2009

"There should be a law against it"

Paul Keating- photo James Alcock and SMH

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating's spray at News Limited over an incident involving his daughter at a celebrity event and claimed misreporting in this article in the Sunday Telegraph yesterday, saw him advocate changes to privacy law that go beyond the proposals for a privacy cause of action now on the table from the Australian and NSW law reform commissions . Mr Keating's proposal would require media organisations to gain a person's permission before publishing a photograph or a story deemed to involve their private life:
'Matters for which there is no public right to know ought to be the preserve of the citizenry in its privacy,'' Mr Keating said. ''That includes details of their personal lives, altercations in marriages, love affairs, compromising photographs taken of them privately without their consent. These are all matters that should be off-limits for newspapers and other media.'
Prompting this response from John Hartigan of News Ltd and Australia's Right to Know:
'What we have now is a man calling for a new law so that people like him can use their wealth, power and privileged positions to avoid scrutiny when it suits them, while remaining happy to exploit the media for their own gain at other times.''
Leading to this comment by Tom McLoughlin on an article by Margaret Simons in Crikey
who called it another unedifying stoush in the battle over privacy laws:
"As for Big Media intrusiveness - it’s not just rich folks who would benefit if an offence was wisely drawn up with a sensible cap. After News ran those bogus interventions in the Qld election with images of HansonNot, they can’t really argue their RTK book on personal privacy issues with much cred, though they are still strong on the Kessing/ security/politics side of RTK."
The law reform commissions' cause of action proposals are presaged on the existence of a reasonable expectation of privacy, a matter to be addressed before you get to balancing an alleged invasion of privacy against right to know or freedom of expression or other public interests. I'm not sure a person at a celebrity event, aware of the presence of press photographers would in normal circumstances have a reasonable expectation that their photo wouldn't be taken and published. It seems a far cry from Mr Keating's example of "compromising photographs taken.. privately without their consent."As to the rights and wrongs of who said and did what at the time this photograph was taken- and that's the main reason for the spat- that's another matter.

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