Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The right to privacy

Q. Is the right to privacy just about people's information?

A. No. Section 13 of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 says that people have the right to privacy and reputation. We often think about privacy as giving us rights when government agencies deal with information about us. This is an important part of the right to privacy, but our rights under the Charter are broader than this.

The right to privacy protects that part of our life that is 'private' from unlawful and arbitrary interference by government. This includes the personal autonomy we have to make decisions about our own lives, and our home and family life.

The Charter says that everyone has the right not to have their privacy, family, home or correspondence unlawfully or arbitrarily interfered with. For example the right to privacy is relevant when government agencies are making decisions about public housing, mental health, guardianship, and planning decisions that affect the quiet enjoyment of people's homes.

Family has a broad meaning and it is important to remember that this includes the kinship structures of Aboriginal Victorians. Part of the concept of privacy is also the right to personal autonomy as a human being, and not having unwarranted and unreasonable intrusions on this. People also have the right not to have their reputation unlawfully attacked.

For more information download the Charter factsheet on the right to privacy.