Home > Civil Rights & Law > Protecting Your Privacy

Protecting Your Privacy

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 16 Apr 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Privacy Rights Protection Public

Everyone is entitled to a degree of privacy in their lives and protecting your privacy is a human and civil right. Although not all countries have privacy laws most will, and the laws will include rights prohibiting invasion of privacy in the home and communications.

The Right to Privacy

The right to privacy is perhaps one of the most difficult rights to actually define. We often hear of celebrities talking about the invasion of their privacy by the media and yet privacy laws are set in place to offer protection. The Human Rights Act 1998 guarantees protection of privacy for all in Britain as set out in the European Convention on human rights. However, in the UK there is no actual legislation that recognises rights of privacy.

Defining Privacy

Privacy can be broken down into four individual but linked parts:

  • Privacy of Information, also known as data protection and includes personal and government records
  • Communications, this covers the security of issues such as telephone calls, email and postal documents
  • Privacy of territory including the working environment, the home and public spaces
  • Privacy of the body including genetic and drug testing and other such invasive searches or trespasses

The Need for Privacy

Without the governing rules on privacy it would be a lot easier for individuals to gain information on others. It would also be a lot harder for prosecutions against individuals that invade the privacy of others. Data protection is set in place in order that problems such as identity theft do not happen, although identity theft can and often does happen. The right to privacy will sometimes conflict with the freedom of information rules and confusion can occur over exactly where the boundaries are set.

Protecting Your Privacy

With identity theft becoming an increasing threat it is important to take steps towards protecting your own personal information. The Internet has made obtaining personal information a lot easier and bank account theft via the Internet is rife. Once criminals have hold of certain personal information they can open bank accounts, obtain state benefits and passports and even apply for jobs under a stolen identity. Criminals have even been known to search refuse bins to gain paper documentation giving personal details that can be used for fraudulent purposes.

Steps to Protect Information

There are a number of simple steps that can be taken to stop personal information ending up in the wrong hands. These steps will include shredding all personal documents such as bank account and credit card statements. Always check bank statements for any transactions that look suspicious. Implementing good virus scanners on home computers and frequently change account passwords. Always redirect mail and inform banks as soon as you move to a new house. Never use public computers to access confidential information.

Privacy Exemptions and the Home

Of course there are certain exemptions to privacy rights. There are a number of complex rules that govern the type of officials that can and cannot enter a person’s home. The police can enter a person’s home but only if they have obtained a search warrant. Similarly, gas and electricity companies can enter a home without permission if they have a court warrant. Court appointed bailiffs can enter the home if permission is granted but they are rarely allowed to break in as is commonly assumed.

Although the general public may find a celebrity’s lack of privacy slightly ironic the right to privacy is an important human right. Breaching a person’s privacy is harassment and there can be legal consequences for those that do so. Identity theft is a particularly serious crime and those found breaking the law can face serious fines and jail sentences.

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Tash- Your Question:
I've had problems with my neighbour since he moved in. He stunk my house out with weed, not sure if he was growing it or smoking lots of it but my son was unable to sleep in his bedroom for about 2 weeks. Police were informed. He has also been aggressive and intimidating towards me and friends so he's been issued with a PIN. Now he's got a chin up bar contraption in his garden that when extended is over 7ft high. He then spends ages working out on it and looking into my garden and he keeps looking round and staring at me through my French doors and into my lounge now making me feel uncomfortable in my own home. It's his way of making me feel intimidated. He like to have a go at women!!! The only thing I can think off is to put up some trellis but I'm in rented property and not sure who 'owns' tgat part of the fence.

Our Response:
You could use a free standing trellis and also try some fast growing plants. Speak to your landlord, they should be able to help you with this.
CivilRightsMovement - 19-Apr-17 @ 10:04 AM
I've had problems with my neighbour since he moved in. He stunk my house out with weed, not sure if he was growing it or smoking lots of it but my son was unable to sleep in his bedroom for about 2 weeks. Police were informed. He has also been aggressive and intimidating towards me and friends so he's been issued with a PIN. Now he's got a chin up bar contraption in his garden that when extended is over 7ft high. He then spends ages working out on it and looking into my garden and he keeps looking round and staring at me through my French doors and into my lounge now making me feel uncomfortable in my own home. It's his way of making me feel intimidated. He like to have a go at women!!! The only thing I can think off is to put up some trellis but I'm in rented property and not sure who 'owns' tgat part of the fence.
Tash - 16-Apr-17 @ 12:42 PM
My ex-husband has obtained copies of my texts with my actual partner and disclosed them to his solicitor. His solicitor claims that my ex is entitled to as my phone contract was in his name. Is there anything I can do about this? I feel my privacy completely violated.
oriordan - 16-Mar-17 @ 6:58 PM
I am involved in litigation with a national company in relation to the supply and fitting of a conservatory. I have discovered that they have employed a private detective to look for information about me, with a view to discrediting me. The information they have obtained is not in the public domain and includes details of my previous partners and my credit history from equifax. I believe that they have also accessed my email account. I feel violated and uncomfortable by this intrusive behaviour and wish to know if it's unlawful.
Shattered - 2-Feb-17 @ 8:31 AM
Hi there, Someone recorded me and my partner doing exercises on the gym and inserted on Facebook... now this video is "flying" through the Internet, poeple are making fun of us and writing some nasty comments. We know who did this. Can we do something to punish this guy for this?
Tina90 - 20-Jan-17 @ 9:11 AM
For the past 2 years I have been gang starked I use to chill with so called friends I thought were o.kI live in a block of flats I am constantly getting electronic harassmentthe flat above me and below me have this box they have to plug in it detects me also when I'm consous and subconscious I.e sleeping or not it gives me bad head aches I can't sleep at night also there doing v2k I've been to the police station a few times but was turned away receptionist saying your not wanted for nothing the boxes bleep every time I go in to a day dream. Also my mail was getting posted to a flat above were a man would sneek down and post it mid day the nock as his doing it and run back up stairs I was and still am under constant servaliance. I know the equipment thay use from radiation to RF signals I have high readings of radiation as evidence and images / videos covert harrasment u.k told me they do this if your a drug dealer or a pedometer which I am not in sat with so called mates who smoked wacky surly this is illegal have they a court order dci investigators. I've been told by the flat on top of me she tells her boyfriend and he tells his friends and word comes back to me so just to piss of the council/vsk/gang stickers I do and think of stupid stuff. I'm a father to my son i work part time wat can I do please help. I can't call 999 only 101 for a officer to come take a statement wat will that do.
Nwa - 18-Jan-17 @ 4:37 AM
Dee - Your Question:
I split from my ex end of July 2016 he's not left me alone finding ways to contact me sending flowers gifts to my house and work also sending letters , I ended up asking him over twice to talk but got nowhere , I was advised by the police to come off social media but he is now messaging other people I don't know telling them about my past when I was 15 telling them how I was raped and molested, can the police do anything about this ?

Our Response:
Yes tell the police about it again - "come off social media" seems to be the standard response to someone reporting being stalked or harassed online. Why should you come off social media because of someone else'e irrational behaviour? They should already have issued your ex with a PIN (Police information notice) and should now be taking further steps to monitor his behaviour. If you can...speak to a solicitor and ask if they can send a warning letterwith a view to court action if it doesn't stop.
CivilRightsMovement - 14-Dec-16 @ 11:35 AM
I split from my ex end of July 2016 he's not left me alone finding ways to contact me sending flowers gifts to my house and work also sending letters , i ended up asking him over twice to talk but got nowhere , I was advised by the police to come off social media but he is now messaging other people I don't know telling them about my past when I was 15 telling them how I was raped and molested, can the police do anything about this ?
Dee - 13-Dec-16 @ 11:56 AM
Vicp45 - Your Question:
A work colleague filmed my sister amd shared the video to management amd another staff member without my sisters consent. Is this legal in the UK?

Our Response:
Yes this sounds like it is an invasion of privacy, she should raise a formal complaint.
CivilRightsMovement - 13-Dec-16 @ 11:49 AM
A work colleague filmed my sister amd shared the video to management amd another staff member without my sisters consent.Is this legal in the UK?
Vicp45 - 11-Dec-16 @ 6:36 PM
my work mate use my phone and take a photos of another work mate, what kind of offence is this under privacy law
jb - 11-Dec-16 @ 5:59 PM
The UK government quietly phased out TV detection vans as they were allegedly breaching European privacy laws. Fast forward and now we have Automatic Number Plate recognition cameras on our roads and CCTV everywhere. So our movements are recorded? How is this legal? To the "But I don't mind as I've done nothing wrong" thinkers - if you don't exercise your rights now, how will you react when it's your turn to need them and they are no longer there. Snowden exposed the levels of illegal surveillance yet we are monitored more than any other nation on the planet.I have no doubt every journey we make, where too, when, times etc are recorded.
Wjm1964 - 9-Dec-16 @ 7:59 PM
Hi there! I purchased a flat in a managed block of flats last year. The building is long and there are two exit points, front (main with a coded entry) and rear (manually operated). Only front can be used for entry as rear exit is meant to be a fire door which closes behind you. Our facilities like bin store, cycle store and car park are at the back. Residents have been accessing these through the rear door for a year since flat were built. We've had problems with rear door being left open and in response to that the building management company placed inward-looking fake CCTV camera and an alarm which they switch on during the week. At the same time, they wrote to all residents saying there is nothing in building regulation that would prevent the use of the rear door. They are planning to install more CCTV cameras around the building. I feel this is intrusion of privacy and find the fake camera intimidating. My flat is right on the rear end of the building so I rely on using the rear door. Is there anything that we can do to stop the management company from installing more cameras around the building and make them remove the fake camera already there? Thanks
Bluesky - 20-Nov-16 @ 1:30 PM
Harrassed Tenant - Your Question:
Hi,I'm renting a property under a short-hold tenancy agreement. I get a property check at least once a month. The letting agents point out anything less than showroom standard cleanliness and make demands unrelated to the property's state of repair. They are often rude, too. The whole process is humiliating. They once rang me to demand non-existent rent arrears and were deeply hostile over the phone. I discovered later that they'd misidentified me. I got no apology nor were they the ones to even notify me of the mistake.I feel humiliated and harrassed. What do I do?

Our Response:
You could try making acomplaint to the landlord/owner of the property. If they behave like this to all the tenants, eventually their reputation may become sullied. You could try and claim damages for the mididentification issue, but you'd need to seek legal advice on that.
CivilRightsMovement - 9-Nov-16 @ 12:31 PM
Hi, I'm renting a property under a short-hold tenancy agreement. I get a property check at least once a month. The letting agents point out anything less than showroom standard cleanliness and make demands unrelated to the property's state of repair. They are often rude, too. The whole process is humiliating. They once rang me to demand non-existent rent arrears and were deeply hostile over the phone. I discovered later that they'd misidentified me. I got no apology nor were they the ones to even notify me of the mistake. I feel humiliated and harrassed. What do I do?
Harrassed Tenant - 8-Nov-16 @ 4:31 PM
Loulou30 - Your Question:
Hi There - couple of years ago my partner bought his 7 year old son an ipod Touch. he accidently configured some of his iphone settings to the childs device. After a few months, we discovered that the childs mother had downloaded the 'Whatsapp' application and had been reading our private messages for about 3 months without our knowledge. My partner went to Apple and immediately changed his Apple ID. The mother actually admitted in an email that she had been reading our messages for months. I took her to civil court for harrassment against me (slander and malicious social media) and during the proceedings she denied having any knowledge of this device. After the hearing was over she now says she has this device and has our personal messages and photographs. Is she allowed to do this? Is this against the law?

Our Response:
If she denied it in court it's perjury.
CivilRightsMovement - 1-Nov-16 @ 2:33 PM
Hi There - couple of years ago my partner bought his 7 year old son an ipod Touch.he accidently configured some of his iphone settings to the childs device.After a few months, we discovered that the childs mother had downloaded the 'Whatsapp' application and had been reading our private messages for about 3 months without our knowledge.My partner went to Apple and immediately changed his Apple ID.The mother actually admitted in an email that she had been reading our messages for months.I took her to civil court for harrassment against me (slander and malicious social media) and during the proceedings she denied having any knowledge of this device.After the hearing was over she now says she has this device and has our personal messages and photographs.Is she allowed to do this?Is this against the law?
Loulou30 - 31-Oct-16 @ 3:52 PM
Titan - Your Question:
My Neighbour works for the local council in some capacity or other my issue is she keeps coming to the door requesting personal information which I am uncomfortable discussing with her like my national insurance number etc saying if I dont tell her I can be fined £1000 I dont mind the council having my information but I would of thought they would write to me directly.

Our Response:
This sounds very unprofessional.Ring the council and ask another member of staff why the council needs this information and ask them to make any requests in writing.
CivilRightsMovement - 18-Oct-16 @ 11:41 AM
My Neighbour works for the local council in some capacity or other my issue is she keeps coming to the door requesting personal information which i am uncomfortable discussing with her like my national insurance number etc saying if i dont tell her i can be fined £1000 i dont mind the council having my information but i would of thought they would write to me directly.
Titan - 17-Oct-16 @ 7:28 AM
Twinkletoes - Your Question:
I have been going to a local caffe for about 4yrs. And made friends with some of the staff,I was very surprised when they told me. That them and the custermers are being watched every Minute they are open by the owner from his home.Even when he goes out of the U.K. He is watching every one on his laptop if he see's them doing nothing and talking to custermers he phones them on his phone to go and do something.I think that is out of order ,it is a invasion. On his working staff and customers of privacey

Our Response:
As long as the employees are aware they could be on cctv, an employer is allowed to install monitoring systems such as cctv.They cannot monitor private space such as toilets, break areas etc
CivilRightsMovement - 6-Oct-16 @ 11:23 AM
I have been going to a local caffe for about 4yrs. And made friends with some of the staff,I was very surprised when they told me. That them and the custermers are being watched every Minute they are open by the owner from his home. Even when he goes out of the U.K. He is watching every one on his laptop if he see's them doing nothing and talking to custermers he phones them on his phone to go and do something . I think that is out of order ,it is a invasion. On his working staff and customers of privacey
Twinkletoes - 4-Oct-16 @ 5:37 PM
Good afternoon, I have a query here. The colleague from work has disclosed the text messages sent between me and her. These messages were sent on Sunday which is not office hour. There is evidences that we used to make comments relating to work outside the office hours. She used to claim I am her friends. The messages contains my view on the way of her working. I think she should stop working like such a manner and possibly this office is not suitable for her. The messages were written in Chinese as both of us are originally from China. She has reported this message to the employer without my consent. She alleged that she has apprehended the sense of threat from me. Do I have any rights of pretection my privacy as I considered she breached the confidence and invaded the privacy. Please advise.
Lucy - 2-Oct-16 @ 5:36 PM
Bubbles - Your Question:
My neighbours have levelled their garden and now when they stand on their new lawn they can see right into my garden and kitchen. Are they breaking any privacy laws ?

Our Response:
No not really. Check with your local planning department to see if raised lawns contravene local regulations.
CivilRightsMovement - 22-Aug-16 @ 12:54 PM
My neighbours have levelled their garden and now when they stand on their new lawn they can see right into my garden and kitchen. Are they breaking any privacy laws ?
Bubbles - 21-Aug-16 @ 1:19 PM
Lex - Your Question:
I was recently called into a meeting at work where a co-worker admitted picking up one of our 4 phones in order to purposefully listen in on a private conversation I was having with my husband. I was wondering if there was a law or legislation that would back me up when speaking to the management about this?Any advice would be fantastic

Our Response:
If your calls are being monitored or recorded, that doesn’t mean an employer has a right to listen to any personal calls. It’s best practice to switch off or delete any recordings which are obviously private. And don’t forget that your employer has an obligation to inform you if telephone monitoring is taking place. If you’re unsure, ask about their policy. See more at Yourprivacy.co.uk
CivilRightsMovement - 8-Aug-16 @ 12:05 PM
I was recently called into a meeting at work where a co-worker admitted picking up one of our 4 phones in order to purposefully listen in on a private conversation I was having with my husband. I was wondering if there was a law or legislation that would back me up when speaking to the management about this? Any advice would be fantastic
Lex - 7-Aug-16 @ 8:46 PM
Moi - Your Question:
Hi my neighbours have erected a swing slide and the biggest trampoline you have ever seen! Consequently I have zero privacy in my garden as these objects are right by the fence in between our houses. It's making me feel really upset. I used to love the peace sitting in my garden, which I no longer have! Advice please, it's their fence which needs to be higher, they say they can't afford this!

Our Response:
They cannot be made to build their fence higher, but there is nothing to prevent you from erecting your own fence on your side of the boundary (within planning constraints) or planting some suitable tall bushes or trees.
CivilRightsMovement - 8-Jun-16 @ 11:14 AM
Hi my neighbours have erected a swing slide and the biggest trampoline you have ever seen! Consequently I have zero privacy in my garden as these objects are right by the fence in between our houses. It's making me feel really upset. I used to love the peace sitting in my garden, which I no longer have! Advice please, it's their fence which needs to be higher, they say they can't afford this!
Moi - 6-Jun-16 @ 7:27 PM
CC - Your Question:
My neighbour has historically been quite aggressive when speaking to me, a few days ago they erected a new door and attached one side to my fence post which has pushed my gate and damaged the lock. Expecting my neighbour to react badly to the news I went to his door and stared recording on my phone. The wife answered (rather than the husband) but I continued to record without her knowledge. I told her about the fence but we moved to my property when her son can out and told her that I was recording. She told me that I have committed a crime and would go to jail; she would call the police. Am I really in trouble?

Our Response:
It's not offence to record the conversation, but you may not be able to use the recording as evidence in any ensuing action (such as court proceedings, police investigation etc)
CivilRightsMovement - 4-Apr-16 @ 2:44 PM
My neighbour has historically been quite aggressive when speaking to me, a few days ago they erected a new door and attached one side to my fence post which has pushed my gate and damaged the lock. Expecting my neighbour to react badly to the news I went to his door and stared recording on my phone. The wife answered (rather than the husband) but I continued to record without her knowledge. I told her about the fence but we moved to my property when her son can out and told her that I was recording. She told me that I have committed a crime and would go to jail; she would call the police. Am I really in trouble?
CC - 1-Apr-16 @ 8:00 PM
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