The Protection of Privacy in Italian Law
Professor Guido Alpa
The use, in the Italian legal vocabulary, of words which have their origin in legal developments in other countries, is becoming more and more widespread. Such words are used in the creation of legal doctrine, in the reasoning of judgments, on occasion in judicial decisions, and even in the wording of legislation. This may flow from the traditional 'xenophilia' that is the hallmark of Italian culture and the national character; or it may be the result of the impossibility of rendering concisely in Italian a particular phenomenon, institution, or concept. Other explanations could be found, but it would serve no purpose to list them here. For the fact remains that imported words such as 'leasing', 'factoring', 'franchising', and 'project financing' are now in common use in Italy. There has been no sign of any negative or resentful attitude to these words that would have ensured their immediate conversion into Italian, on the lines of what has happened in France. There is no prohibition in Italian law of the use of foreign words; indeed any such prohibition would be unthinkable.
This is what has happened with the word 'privacy', which has always been used in Italy in its English version. To be sure, there has been no shortage of Italian translations of the term, such as diritto alla riservatezza (the right to privacy), diritto al riserbo (the right to be treated with discretion or, to privacy), diritto al segreto della vita privata (the right to keep one's private life secret) and diritto ad essere lasciati soli (the right to be left alone). Yet it does not take much to realize that some of these terms are literal translations: riservatezza and riserbo are translations of 'privacy'; and diritto ad essere lasciati soli is equivalent to 'the right to be left alone'. In any event, none of these literal translations has