Protecting Privacy: The Clifford Chance Lectures - Vol. 4

By Basil S. Markesinis | Go to book overview

3
The Right to Privacy in French Law

Professor Étienne Picard


INTRODUCTORY REMARKS

I. In France, the idea that 'private life' should not be invaded by strangers emerged a long time ago, probably when this phrase was first coined as a contrast to 'public life'.1 But the 'right to privacy'2 came into use later. Moreover, it did not emerge at a given moment but was shaped in a piecemeal manner lacking unity, in a legal sense, 3 to this day. Thus, the various manifestations of this right can be traced back to various times. If we limit ourselves to the post- Revolutionary period, the Constitution of 22 August 1795 proclaimed that: 'Every citizen's home is an inviolable asylum' (though the right was also subjected to serious qualifications).4 Closer analysis also suggests that many of its facets could be traced to other kinds of rights, or constituted the sanctions of other obligations connected to privacy. Thus, property rights, the right to the protection of one's domicile, freedom of conscience, 'personality

____________________
1
See Aries & Duby (eds.), Histoire de la vie privée, 5 vols. Seuil.
2
The American notion of the 'right to privacy' is generally translated either as 'droit à l'intimité de la vie privée' or 'vie privée' (see Stone, Le Droit à l'intimité de la vie privée (Institutions fondamentales du droit des Etats-Unis), Coll. Bibliothèque de droit international, vol. 30, 1965; Gervais, 'La sauvegarde de l'intimité aux Etats- Unis', Revue Administrative 1978, no. 184, p. 387; Rigaux, 'L'élaboration d'un "Right to privacy" par la jurisprudence américaine', Revue Internationale de Droit Comparé (RIDC) 1980, 701 ff.
3
See inter alia Association Henri Capitanr, Le secret de la vie prive, Travaux de l'Association, T. XXV, ( 1974); Roux, La protection de la vie privée dans les rapports entre l'État et les particuliers ( 1983); Rigaux, La protection de la vie privée et des autres droits de la personnalité ( 1990); Ravanas, Protection de la vie privée Jurisclasseur, Jouissance des droits civils, Art. 9; Kayser, La protection de la vie privée par le droit. Protection du secret de la vie privée, 3rd edn. ( 1995); Archives de Philosophie du Droit, vol. 41, Le privé et le public ( 1997), 9-410 where, note more particularly, Beignier, Vie privée et vie publique, 165-80.
4
Article 359. The Constitution of 3 September 1791 already contained a similar provision: see Article 9, Titre IV; and so did the Constitution of 13 December 1799.

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