04 August 2012

Forgetting and filming

'The Emerging Conflict between Newsworthiness and the Right to Be Forgotten' by Jasmine McNealy in (2012) Northern Kentucky Law Review comments that
 In early 2010 it was reported that the some of the nations of the European Union were considering passing legislation aimed a protecting an individual's "right to be forgotten." The right to be forgotten is such that a person's past deeds, though chronicled and now available on the Internet, were considered private. Therefore, any person could demand that the possessor of this information erase it or face a lawsuit.
Although EU members hail the creation of this right to be forgotten as improving individual privacy rights, such a right creates a problem for American online news organizations. Not only does such law come into direct conflict with protections found in the First Amendment, but it also conflicts with traditional privacy jurisprudence, which states that information made public cannot become private again. At the same time, Americans seem to be attempting to assert a right to be forgotten. For instance, a man threatened to sue a college newspaper that had articles reporting on the misdeeds of his son in its online archives.
This paper analyzes the emerging conflict that recognizing a right to be forgotten online would have with American jurisprudence regarding the role of the press, both traditional and online, as a watchdog for the public as well as with traditional U.S. privacy policy. Section two attempts to examine the boundaries of the right to be forgotten from both theoretical and EU perspectives. Section three considers traditional U.S privacy law and some of the contours of that law including the protection for newsworthy information. Section four analyzes the right to be forgotten with respect to the protections for free expression detailed in Section three. This paper concludes with a consideration of how the right to be forgotten would not fit with traditional U.S. privacy jurisprudence.
US site Politico meanwhile features an item on the 'right' not to be surveilled.

Under the headline 'Lawmakers: Candidates almost being stalked' Alex Isenstad reports that
More than four dozen House members from both parties will tell party leaders Thursday that it’s time to put a halt to the increasingly invasive tactics of campaign trackers. “Over the last few election cycles, the use of trackers has increased. Sometimes it even borders on stalking,” a letter to be delivered to Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) states. “We believe filing candidates, sometimes with hidden cameras, while they take care of routine family activities like grocery shopping and posting videos of their private residences is a step too far.” 
The unhappiness - which will remind Australian law students of Victoria Park Racing & Recreation Grounds Co Ltd v Taylor [1937] HCA 45; (1937) 58 CLR 479 - reflects revelation that
Democratic trackers have been filming the homes of Republican members and candidates and placing the raw footage on YouTube. Members called the tactic a gross invasion of privacy. And they said it created a safety risk for them and their families at a time when they are already on edge after a deranged gunman shot former Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in January 2011. In June, a 38-second clip of Ribble’s northeastern Wisconsin home appeared online. The soundless video, which appears to be taken from a car sitting just outside the house, pans across the large home and shows it from several angles. ... The freshman said his wife felt uncomfortable being alone in their house during the day. 
The DCCC has stood by its practice of filming homes and placing them on YouTube, arguing that it wants to cast House Republicans — especially those who are wealthy and have large homes — as out of touch with struggling American families. By placing the videos online, the DCCC is hoping that like-minded outside groups will use the footage in TV ads this fall. The NRCC has said it is against protocol for their trackers to record Democratic members or candidates in private spaces.
The very rich, as the crusty Paul Fussell once noted in his discussion of the taboo subject of class, may of course shelter behind thick hedges in residences that are a long way from a public street and thus not readily surveilled using even a telephoto lens. In my crueller moments I'm tempted to think that anxieties about the safety of homeowners - politicians or otherwise - might be a tad alleviated through restrictions on the sacred right to carry arms. The worried politicians could of course strengthen US national privacy law, including the development of restrictions regarding profiling by political organisations of voters.

In Australia the scope for action under stalking statutes varies but courts would presumably consider reasonable fear/apprehension in relation to notions of public interest and precedents regarding street photography. What about exposure of residences through 'real estate 2.0', such as online images of properties for sale, including properties that were for sale and as yet haven't been forgotten?