Mass Communication Law and Ethics

By Roy L. Moore | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
RIGHT OF PRIVACY

There is no doubt that she was looking for a new direction in her life at this time. She talked endlessly of getting away from England, mainly because of the treatment she received at the hands of the newspapers. I don't think she ever understood why her genuinely good intentions were sneered at by the media, why there appeared to be a permanent quest on their behalf to bring her down. It is baffling. My own, and only, explanation is that genuine goodness is threatening to those at the opposite end of the moral spectrum.

-- The 9th Earl Spenser, Charles Althorp Funeral oration for his sister, Diana, Princess of Wales, September 6, 1997

You have no secrets. At the ATM, on the Internet, even walking down the street, people are watching your every move. What can you do about it?

-- Time magazine cover on "The Death of Privacy", August 25, 1997

On August 31, 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales, and her companion, Dodi Fayed, were killed in an auto accident in Paris while the car in which they were riding was being chased by the paparazzi on motorcycles. As a result of worldwide public backlash, the British Press Complaints Commission pressured editors of British newspapers to adopt voluntary guidelines that considerably limit invasion of personal privacy, which includes family life, health, churches, and restaurants. 1 The editors had already agreed shortly after the tragedy not to pursue Diana's sons, Prince William and Prince Harry.

In August 1997, a man was "fingered" by an Internet service provider (ISP) and reported to authorities after he was discovered in a routine monitoring to have downloaded child pornography.

Probably no one's private life has been subjected to more scrutiny than Monica Lewinsky, the 22-year-old White House intern, with whom President Bill Clinton admitted having sexual encounters over a 14-month period in the Oval Office. When Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr turned over his report and accompanying 18 boxes of documents to Congress, 2 it was the beginning of an intense ordeal for Lewinsky and Clinton. The report contained graphic and explicit testimony about the most intimate details of Lewinsky and her nine sexual incidents with the president.

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