Home > Civil Rights & Law > Protecting Your Privacy

Protecting Your Privacy

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 30 Nov 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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hullensian - Your Question:
I have unpleasant neighbours who place their sunloungers about 3 feet away from our common boundary and gaze into my garden (and sometimes directly towards my kitchen window) every day for about six months of the year from 10.30am to teatime. I find this intimidating. I have some deciduous trees and shrubs - none of them on the boundary - and he keeps complaining that they are cutting down the amount of sunlight they get and I should cut them down. The shrubs provide the only little bit of privacy I have. He recently asked me if I thought if fair that they had to sweep up leaves twice a week. I was tempted to ask why he thinks they are called "leaves" but he has a filthy temper. Last year he shouted at me that he would come over the wall (his wall) and cut down the trees himself (he denies this now).When I suggested he moved his sunloungers to the other side of the garden he retorted that he would have to move his pots (their garden consists of twee ornaments, children's windmills and a few plants in pots.think the children's section of a municipal cemetery.I am quite confident that I am not breaking the law.I know what I must do - 6ft fence erected on my side of the boundary - but I fear reprisals. Think I just need the sympathy vote really. Thanks for reading.

Our Response:
Planting trees and shrubs in your garden is entirely up to you, your neighbour can't do anything about this apart from cut back any branches that overhang their side of the boundary. If you have several evergreen trees in a row...that are extremely high, your neighbour might have cause to complain under high hedges legislation but it doesn't sound like that is the case.
CivilRightsMovement - 6-Dec-17 @ 3:48 PM
I have unpleasant neighbours who place their sunloungers about 3 feet away from our common boundary and gaze into my garden (and sometimes directly towards my kitchen window) every day for about six months of the year from 10.30am to teatime.I find this intimidating.I have some deciduous trees and shrubs - none of them on the boundary - and he keeps complaining that they are cutting down the amount of sunlight they get and I should cut them down. The shrubs provide the only little bit of privacy I have.He recently asked me if I thought if fair that they had to sweep up leaves twice a week.I was tempted to ask why he thinks they are called "leaves" but he has a filthy temper. Last year he shouted at me that he would come over the wall (his wall) and cut down the trees himself (he denies this now). When I suggested he moved his sunloungers to the other side of the garden he retorted that he would have to move his pots (their garden consists of twee ornaments, children's windmills and a few plants in pots...think the children's section of a municipal cemetery. I am quite confident that I am not breaking the law. I know what I must do - 6ft fence erected on my side of the boundary - but I fear reprisals.Think I just need the sympathy vote really.Thanks for reading.
hullensian - 30-Nov-17 @ 6:04 PM
Tubd - Your Question:
We live in Housing Association and have a power crazy estate manager. We now have cameras put up covering all areas of our communal garden literally everything we do in the garden is seen on camera is this an infringement of privacy?

Our Response:
If you feel the cameras are unnecessary and an invasion of your privacy, first make a complaint to the Housing Association via their complaints procedure. If that doesn't resolve things, you should seek advice from the Information Commissioner's office.
CivilRightsMovement - 27-Nov-17 @ 3:38 PM
We live in Housing Association and have a power crazy estate manager. We now have cameras put up covering all areas of our communal garden literally everything we do in the garden is seen on camera is this an infringement of privacy?
Tubd - 24-Nov-17 @ 1:08 PM
We are in the middle of building works to which our very difficult neighbour objected. Since the work has started she has: - harassed the builders through the hedge (the builders want to go to the police but so far we have asked them not to as would prefer to avoid the hassle) - come onto our property with a pair of scissors and a spray bottle hidden up her sleeve which she used to cut and spray some plants (we have no idea why or what was in the bottle) - come onto our property and taken pictures including a picture of the inside by holding her phone up to the window - regularly bad mouths us and our builders saying but very nasty things We have cameras up as we have moved out whilst work is being done and have most of the above on tape but have so far avoided going to the authorities as he had hoped she would just get bored. Any thoughts on whether we have grounds for prosecution (or at least grounds for prosecution) so it's a fair threat to make?
Jennifer - 22-Aug-17 @ 9:55 PM
ShellyHG- Your Question:
We are having problems with our neighbor taking photographs of our back garden & front of the house when we are parking our car, he has made several complaints to the council because we feed wild birds. Our garden is enclosed by a 6ft wall all the way round, but he is taking photographs from his the upstairs window. My concern is for our privacy & my young grandson who is here most day.

Our Response:
If you are concerned, mention it to your local PCSO or you could consider a private legal action.
CivilRightsMovement - 30-Jun-17 @ 12:04 PM
We are having problems with our neighbor taking photographs of our back garden & front of the house when we are parking our car, he has made several complaints to the council because we feed wild birds. Our garden is enclosed by a 6ft wall all the way round, but he is taking photographs from his the upstairs window. My concern is for our privacy & my young grandson who is here most day.
ShellyHG - 29-Jun-17 @ 12:38 PM
Bicquette - Your Question:
We caught our neighbours twice taking picture of private letters left on our front seat in the car on our drive. We have him on our cctv camera doing so. What can we do to stop him.

Our Response:
Firstly - don't leave private letters open on the seat of your car. Secondly report it to the local police (non-emergency number 101)
CivilRightsMovement - 16-Jun-17 @ 11:32 AM
We caught our neighbours twice taking picture of private letters left on our front seat in the car on our drive. We have him on our cctv camera doing so. What can we do to stop him.
Bicquette - 13-Jun-17 @ 7:37 PM
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
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