There is little consensus internationally as to whether and how the law should respond when celebrities find themselves subjected to unwanted public discussions of their private lives in the media (increasingly on a global basis online), and when their personal attributes are referenced without their consent in certain kinds of advertising and trade. A number of commentators have characterized such intrusions on a celebrity’s personal dignity or autonomy as simply falling among the minor inconveniences of being a celebrity, insufficient to warrant legal protection given important social values such as freedom of speech and cultural pluralism. The lack of consensus is reflected in the uncertain shifting legal lines drawn around celebrity protection, especially in common law jurisdictions which, unlike many civil law jurisdictions, do not adhere to the idea of a full-scale personality right. In this chapter, we canvass the diverse devices that the common law courts have deployed to deal with the grant of celebrity rights. We note and support the messy multivalence we find recognised in common law approaches given the range of dynamic interests that are at play. Such heterogeneity of values might also be relevant to the curtailment of celebrity rights. Thus, we equally support a flexible approach to the limitations, defences and other points at which discretion may be exercised by judges to find a balance between the interests/rights that may be claimed for celebrities (human and otherwise) in controlling the uses of their personal attributes in advertising and trade, and the countervailing interests/rights that others may seek to maintain including in freedom of speech and cultural pluralism.'Group Privacy: a Defence and an Interpretation' by Luciano Floridi in Linnet Taylor, Luciano Floridi and Bart van der Sloot (eds), Group Privacy: New Challenges of Data Technologies (Springer, 2017) comments
In this chapter I identify three problems affecting the plausibility of group privacy and argue in favour of their resolution. The first problem concerns the nature of the groups in question. I shall argue that groups are neither discovered nor invented, but designed by the level of abstraction (LoA) at which a specific analysis of a social system is developed. Their design is therefore justified insofar as the purpose, guiding the choice of the LoA, is justified. This should remove the objection that groups cannot have a right to privacy because groups are mere artefacts (there are no groups, only individuals) or that, even if there are groups, it is too difficult to deal with them. The second problem concerns the possibility of attributing rights to groups. I shall argue that the same logic of attribution of a right to individuals may be used to attribute a right to a group, provided one modifies the LoA and now treats the whole group itself as an individual. This should remove the objection that, even if groups exist and are manageable, they cannot be treated as holders of rights. The third problem concerns the possibility of attributing a right to privacy to groups. I shall argue that sometimes it is the group and only the group, not its members, that is correctly identified as the correct holder of a right to privacy. This should remove the objection that privacy, as a group right, is a right held not by a group as a group but rather by the group’s members severally. The solutions of the three problems supports the thesis that an interpretation of privacy in terms of a protection of the information that constitutes an individual—both in terms of a single person and in terms of a group—is better suited than other interpretations to make sense of group privacy.