The Council of Europe has published “Guidelines on Safeguarding Privacy in the Media” [pdf]. These are a collection of standards of the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights concerning the protection of privacy of public figures and private individuals in the media. They also include data protection principles based on various regulatory instruments and best practices.

The guidelines target journalists and other media professionals and aim to help with the practical application of privacy standards to individual “ethics related dilemmas”.

The guidelines are a useful distillation of the standards and case law which apply to the reporting of private information in the media.

The topics covered include:

  • The role of the media and responsible journalism – involving balanced reporting and attempting to contact the persons concerned before publication.
  • The nature of private life and the need for consent or public interest before personal information is made public.
  • The distinction between public figures and private individuals
  • The framework for balancing the rights to privacy and freedom of expression – the criteria set out in the case law.
  • Specific issues of private life
    • Family, home, property
    • Physical and moral integrity
    • The right to one’s image
    • Correspondence
  • Crime reporting including the rights to privacy of victims, the rights of suspects to protect their identity, the privacy rights of persons in custody and of convicted persons.
  • Data protection principles