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Protecting Your Privacy

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 14 Jul 2018 | 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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I recently purchased a shared ownership flat. All the flats in the building have a terrace/balcony. Our terrace is below the communal terrace, so there are constantly people standing at the fence which looks over our property, making lots of noise as they are usually drinking alcohol. We have absolutely no visual privacy whatsoever :-( The worst incident was a few weekends ago when someone urinated from the communal terrace onto our patio! We are wondering whether we have any rights to force the Housing Association who manage the building to put a barrier in place to deter people from standing over our terrace and as a result cause issues of nuisance, worst case scenario aggressive behaviour? I did contact them about this but they said a barrier would only be put in place if all residents agreed with a fee being added to everyone's service charge... Needless to say, no-one will agree! And we wonder why residents should have to pay for this work when this is a design flaw, which they are responsible for! We'd be willing to split the costs with HO so I'm thinking of getting in touch with them again with a few clauses from our lease re: privacy. Any advice you could impart would be much appreciated. With many thanks DH
DH - 14-Jul-18 @ 1:09 PM
We live in a semi detached house with small front garden andpath and parking, our neighbours have this area paved and has decided to park at an angle facing our front lounge, she and passenger can see us sat on our sofa thus resulting in us keeping our blinds closed ..I believe the garden area was never meant to be used as parking (privacy garden)is there anything I can do to resolve this. ( we don't speak to the neighbours)
Harvey - 13-Jul-18 @ 4:15 PM
Hi can anyone help..i privately rent my home and am having problems with my neighbour on my left..4 times now I have caught him looking over our fence which is 6ft tall, he stands on something to do this, is he allowed? Also he has a brick 1 story outbuilding at the side of our fence which he uses for his business and his window is facing our bedroom window so he can see straight in, is this an invasion of our privacyand is there anything I can do about it?
LHeck - 12-Jul-18 @ 11:14 PM
The neighbour whose hedge runs along the bottom of our garden has been talking, for some years, about reducing the hedge by about a foot, this was absolutely fine with us.We came home on Saturday to find that he has had the hedge cut down from approximatley 5' 6" to 3'.... we were devastated!!! We have completely lost all privacy, as well as the feeling of security as the rest of our property is completely enclosed. I also have another reason for needing this privacy, I suffer with psoriasis and can be absolutely covered, therefore I really value my privacy and also the sun helps my condition, as the situation stands I will not even go into the garden despite all this wonderful weather which could help my condition. Is there anything we can do about it?
soosoo - 6-Jul-18 @ 7:14 PM
emj - Your Question:
Our garden is overlooked by the church hall, which is used for various classes. The problem I have is that the ballet class that runs on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday from 3 to 6 and also on a saturday morning plays the music so loud that I can hear it in my living room, even with the television on. The windows of the church hall, which are upstairs also look directly into my garden, so I have the dance teacher and pupils overlooking my garden. They often stand at the window looking down I also have a direct line of site from my patio into the room were they are dancing, which I feel is inappropriate considering that young children are being taught in there,

Our Response:
Contact your environmental health department about the noise. If you think there is anything inappropriate about this contact your local community police.
CivilRightsMovement - 15-Jun-18 @ 2:04 PM
Our garden is overlooked by the church hall, which is used for various classes. The problem i have is that the ballet class that runs on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday from 3 to 6 and also on a saturday morning plays the music so loud that i can hear it in my living room, even with the television on. The windows of the church hall, which are upstairs also look directly into my garden, so i have the dance teacher and pupils overlooking my garden. They often stand at the window looking downI also have a direct line of site from my patio into the room were they are dancing, which i feel is inappropriate considering that young children are being taught in there,
emj - 14-Jun-18 @ 2:26 PM
I had 2 policemen at my door, i did not give my id i am a former special branch,i have been a private investigator for over 10 years, i waited to see what they would do in my home, with regret they abused there powers as i new they would. it was a straight forward domestic. no crime was committed, thus i solve more cases in 1 week than they do all year. my daughter is training to be a solicitor that was at the property at the time also my son aged 15, 1st police officer was doing everthing correct this officer neads a medal to work with a corrupt one, 2nd police officer was making it up as he went along a corrupt officer was not trained also further investigation disclosure & barring service he has a criminal record before he joined the service. the last time i checked you could not join the force if you have a recored. He invaded the my home, he went into my daughters room without knocking as she was not decent, she just got her top on when the officer barged in my daughter is 18 years old, my daughter is not happy. He kept barging up the stairs without no reason to the same room my daughter. 5 times its all on cam. i am an investigator for a company called genexa, a am a former gov agent. i watched as they broke every rule in the police training book. my job is to help the police, i give police all the information needed in a case. i spoke to the sargent on duty he said they were just doing there job. LOL my nabours son works for the special branch, he said they have broke the law sort it out i think so to. no officer has the right to invade your home, if no crime has been commited. The stage was set for the officers, I had a few drinks about 2 to 3 cans of carling to make sure i stunk of drink, when they arrived the police officer stated are you going for a drive i will move my car as he was parked behind me. i will move my car lol, what he should of said think about the action you are about to take he aided a crime, he new full well i was over the limit, he set a trap for a crime corrupt cop it is easy to pic out a corrupt cop, he wants to harm you or cause you harm. when i said i will walk he had a tantrum like a 3 year old without his lolly sucker. The facts are the police officer is currupt and i am investigating it further, he will have to explain to a crown court his actions, also his criminal recored. Police corruption is a growing crime, drugs, rape, gbh, abh, molestation becarefull hope this helps,
10 yrs private inves - 28-May-18 @ 7:34 PM
My neighbours are building a raised seating area at the back of their garden with a small dividing wall brteeen the area and rest of garden but due to the current height of.the garden and proposed height of.the new seeting area we will have no privacy as the seating area would look directly into our patio doorsat the rear of our house, and our patio at the back of our house.We spoke to our housing association about this and they have told us that it would be upto the council planning departmet to state if it would be a breach of.our privicy during the process of them applying for planning permition which they have not done. We was wondering if we can take any action against this
Stevo - 4-May-18 @ 6:57 PM
Me and my husband live in a stone house that's been converted to two flats that's owned by the council. We live upstairs and our garden is the front. The neighbour lives downstairs and her garden is to the back. The neighbours Windows are in my garden. My upstairs Windows face her garden. The garden is communal, but it's all fenced off. She can't walk into my garden like I can't walk into her hers. We also have our own entrances. She's bought the inside space of the flat but the council still own the land. My problem is which is serious we have no privacy. She is a very nosey neighbour and brings her family round when we are havingfriends round and socialising in the garden like barbequing or just relaxing in the garden. She as curtains up but she pulls them back to nosey. I have two autoimmune diseases RA and Lupus. I need to be able to sit out to boost my vitamin D levels. I would like to know if there's anything we can do bout the privacy. The two Windows that are in my garden are the bedroom and living room.
JoJo - 14-Mar-18 @ 8:44 PM
Allegaly the police told my ex partner to film me but he has been filming from my own front garden of wich i have not given him permission nor gave him permission to enter he has filmed me through my window and i would like to know where i stand on this ?
Trees - 6-Mar-18 @ 5:00 PM
Are there any laws on having a large trampoline in a garden?Last summer my neighbours placed a large trampoline (tad taller than my conservatory) at the top of the garden right next to the fence which means I have no privacy in my small garden.Besides the constant noise and screaming and bouncing the ball off my conservatory I cannot sit outside in the garden any more nor even manage a quick weeding session at the bottom of the garden as the children always choose to face my way and stare into my garden when they are in the trampoline, screaming my name but worst of all screaming the name of my little dog and taunting her all the time.It really spoiled my summer last year surely I have a right to some privacy in my own garden? I would be grateful for any advice.thank you.
smp - 1-Mar-18 @ 9:52 PM
Redrowtakethe**** - Your Question:
We brought a Redrow home in 2016. Since purchase they have mis sold to as many as 2O households through mis advertising and sales consultants providing incorrect information. The lastest development is a road owned by the “management estate company” which I’m almost 99% sure we own a share as freeholders was supposed to be a gated access road to service utilities. This is now being pedestrianised. I have a 2 meter wall surrounding my plot. However, the service road is 9 ft higher than my garden and house level. Anyone standing on the road which is to be pedestrianised will be at knee height and can look straight into my garden and property. We are very security conscious because of our line of work and would not have purchased this property had we known it’s intended use. Do we have any privacy rights? Rights as a shareholder of the land to change use? Would planning offers be able to get involved? Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!

Our Response:
Your deeds will tell you whether you own a share in the road and whether you have any corresponding rights and responsibilities. You could try talking to your plannign department about the possibility of extending the wall height of your rear garden.
CivilRightsMovement - 24-Jan-18 @ 3:08 PM
We brought a Redrow home in 2016.Since purchase they have mis sold to as many as 2O households through mis advertising and sales consultants providing incorrect information.The lastest development is a road owned by the “management estate company” which I’m almost 99% sure we own a share as freeholders was supposed to be a gated access road to service utilities.This is now being pedestrianised.I have a 2 meter wall surrounding my plot.However, the service road is 9 ft higher than my garden and house level.Anyone standing on the road which is to be pedestrianised will be at knee height and can look straight into my garden and property.We are very security conscious because of our line of work and would not have purchased this property had we known it’s intended use.Do we have any privacy rights? Rights as a shareholder of the land to change use?Would planning offers be able to get involved?Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!
Redrowtakethe**** - 23-Jan-18 @ 11:10 PM
The building next to my home has been granted permission to change to a restaurant. This is abut to my land and 4 large restaurant windows look directly into my family bathroom. The planning department say this is not an invasion of privacy?
Kirsti Thomson - 19-Jan-18 @ 5:05 PM
R4VING - Your Question:
Hello, my friend has recently purchased a property, but Their next door neighbours have a garage now that garage has windows on the side of it that look into my friends garden, now surely this isn’t legal ? What should they do? Isn’t this invading of privacy or something? Sorry if my wording isn’t correct but hopefully you get my point, thank you

Our Response:
This depends on which area of the garden is overlooked e.g whether it is close to the house/where the neighbour would be sitting out etc. Also the fact that the view is from a garage rather than from a main/regularly used room in the house could make difference. Tell your friend to ask the planning department. If it was a really a concern, it would have been useful to have addressed this before purchasing the property.
CivilRightsMovement - 12-Jan-18 @ 2:59 PM
Hello, my friend has recently purchased a property, but Their next door neighbours have a garage now that garage has windows on the side of it that look into my friends garden, now surely this isn’t legal ? What should they do? Isn’t this invading of privacy or something?. Sorry if my wording isn’t correct but hopefully you get my point, thank you
R4VING - 10-Jan-18 @ 7:47 PM
Our new neighbours bought a large trampoline and have positioned it in their front garden, directly opposite our lounge window, which means we have lost all privacy and if they bounce high enough, they would also be able to see into the bedroom window. The noise levels are such that when the trampoline is in use we hear it over the sound of the TV. They have a walled back garden and if the trampoline was placed there, it would remove all these problems.
kevinandlyn - 1-Jan-18 @ 6:50 PM
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
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