In Von Hannover v Germany involved proceedings by Princess Caroline of Monaco. She claimed proceedings in Germany inadequately protected her against the publication of private photographs. The court stated.
“the Court reiterates the concept of private life extends to aspects relating to personal identity such as o the person’s name or a person’s picture. Furthermore, private life ……includes a person’s physical and psychological integrity; the guarantee afforded by Article 8 of the Convention is primarily to ensure the development without outside interference of the personality of each individual in his relations with other human beings. There is therefore a zone of interaction of a person with others even in a public context which may fall within the scope of public life.
As regards photos with a view to defining the scope of the protection afforded by Article 8 against arbitrary interference by public authority the European Commission of Human Rights have regard to whether the photographs are related to private or public matters and whether the material thus obtained was envisaged for a limited use is likely to be made available to the general public.
The court indicated that it considered a fundamental distinction needs to be made between reporting facts – even controversial ones – capable of contributing to a debate in a democratic society relating to politicians in the exercise of their functions, for example, and reporting details of the private life of an individual who moreover in this case does not exercise official functions. While in the former case, the press exercises its vital role of “watchdog” in a democracy by contributing to imparting information and ideas on matters of public interest, it does not do so in the latter case.
In a further case arising from the criteria set out in the first court’s judgement, it was found that the German court had balanced the right of the publishers against the private right of Princess Caroline. The key question is whether the photographs contributed to a debate of general interest in the circumstances concerned.
In Peck v UK the impact of CCTV was considered. Generally, security cameras in public streets and public places such as shopping centres which serve a legitimate purpose breach Article 8.
The court indicated that monitoring in a public place would not generally constitute interference with a person’s private life. However systematic and permanent retention of materials may give rise to interference. In particular circumstances, there was a breach as the material had been shown without consent and without disguising the person’s identity.
Public or Political Figures
Lillo-Stenberg and Saether v. Norway The applicants, a well-known musician and actress in Norway, complained about press invasion of their privacy during their wedding in August 2005. Without the couple’s consent, the weekly magazine Se og Hor subsequently published a two-page article about the wedding accompanied by six photographs. They showed the bride, her father and bridesmaids arriving at the islet in a small rowing boat, the bride being brought to the groom by her father and the bride and groom returning to the mainland on foot by crossing the lake on stepping stones. The Court held that there had been no violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private life) of the Convention. Having regard to the margin of appreciation enjoyed by the national courts when balancing competing interests, it found that the Supreme Court had not failed to comply with its obligations under Article 8 of the Convention.
Couderc and Hachette Filipacchi Associés v. France concerned the conviction of the applicants – the publication director and publisher of the weekly magazine Paris Match – following the publication in May 2005 of a ten-page article, announced on the magazine cover under the headline “Albert of Monaco: A., the secret child” and containing several photographs. The Court held that there had been a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the Convention, finding that the arguments advanced by the French Government with regard to the protection of Prince Albert’s private life and of his right to his own image could not be regarded as sufficient to justify interfering with the judgment in question.
The Court considered in particular that, given the nature of the information in question, the applicants could be understood as having contributed to the coverage of a subject of public interest. It further observed that the disputed publication admittedly concerned the sphere of Prince Albert’s private life, but found that the essential element of the information contained in the article – the child’s existence – went beyond the private sphere, given the hereditary nature of the Prince’s functions as the Monegasque Head of State.
Kahn v. Germany The two applicants were minors, children of a famous football player. The case concerned the repeated publication of photos of them in two magazines aimed at the general public, in spite of a blanket ban on publication ordered by a court.The Court held that there had been no violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private life) of the Convention, finding that the German authorities had not failed in their positive obligation towards the applicants and had afforded them sufficient protection.
Dupate v. Latvia At the time of the events in question, the applicant was a lawyer and her partner was the chairperson of a political party and the face of an advertising campaign for a nationally available celebrity-focused magazine. The Court held that there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private life) of the Convention, finding that, although the domestic courts had balanced the right to privacy of the applicant with the right to freedom of expression of the publishing magazine, they had failed to do so sufficiently or in line with the Court’s case-law.
The Court stressed, in this respect, that a degree of caution was required where a partner of a public person attracted media attention merely on account of his or her private or family life. Furthermore, although the applicant had not been depicted in a humiliating manner, the article had been a “photo story”, with the text of secondary importance. The shots had been taken covertly, in a situation the applicant could not practicably have avoided – traversing the hospital car park – and she had been followed to her home.
Professionals (lawyers, journalists, etc.)
M.D. and Others v. Spain concerned the compiling of files by the police in Catalonia on the applicants, judges who had expressed certain views on that region’s independence from Spain.
The Court held that there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private life) of the Convention in the present case. The reports contained personal data, photographs and certain professional information (partially extracted from the police ID database), and, in some cases, political views.
Bremner v. Turkey concerned the broadcasting of a television documentary in which the applicant, who was shown promoting his evangelical Christian beliefs, was described as a “foreign pedlar of religion” engaged in covert activities in Turkey.
The Court held that there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private life) of the Convention, finding that the Turkish authorities had not struck a fair balance between the competing interests and that the manner in which they had dealt with the case had not afforded the applicant adequate and effective protection of his right to his own image and therefore to respect for his private life. In view of the fact that the applicant was not famous, there was nothing to suggest that the broadcasting of his image would be newsworthy or useful.
Société de Conception de Presse et d’Edition v. France
This case concerned the conviction of the applicant – the publisher of the monthly magazine Choc – following the unauthorised publication, on the front cover and again four times on inside pages of edition 120 of the magazine, of a photograph of a young man – wearing shackles and showing visible signs of ill-treatment – taken by his torturers while he was in captivity. The applicant complained of an infringement of the right to freedom of expression and information.
The Court held that there had been no violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the Convention, Moreover, the restriction on freedom of expression had been proportionate, as the domestic courts had merely ordered that the photograph in question be blacked out, without censoring the article or ordering its withdrawal.
Bogomolova v. Russia concerned the use of a minor’s image without parental authorisation. The child’s photo had been featured on the cover of a booklet meant to inform the public about the local authorities’ efforts to protect orphans and the assistance available for families looking to adopt. The Court held that there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private life) of the Convention. It found in particular that the Russian courts had failed to examine whether the applicant had given her consent for the publication of the photograph, focusing instead on the authorisation she had given that her son be photographed. The Court also highlighted the false impressions and inferences which could be drawn from the context of the photograph, namely that the child pictured had no parents or had been abandoned by his parents, and the effect that that could have on public perception of the applicant’s relationship with her son.
Vučina v. Croatia In this case a lifestyle magazine with nationwide distribution published a photograph of the applicant attending a popular music concert. The caption to the picture wrongly identified the applicant as the wife of the then mayor of the city where the concert was taking place. The Court declared the application inadmissible finding that, while the erroneous misidentification might have caused some distress to the applicant, the level of seriousness associated with the erroneous labelling of her photograph and the inconvenience that she had suffered did not give rise to an issue under Article 8 (right to respect for private life) of the Convention.
Hájovský v. Slovakia 2021 After publishing an advertisement in a nationwide daily newspaper aimed at finding a surrogate mother, the applicant found himself the subject of a television report by an investigative reporter who had recorded her meetings with him covertly whilst pretending to be a potential surrogate mother. The Court held that there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private life) of the Convention, finding that, notwithstanding the margin of appreciation allowed to the domestic courts in this field, the Slovakian State had failed to fulfil its positive obligations under that provision. The Court also noted that the applicant had not been a public or newsworthy figure within the meaning of the Court’s case-law, had not sought any public exposure beyond placing the advertisement, nor could he have suspected that by talking to the person who had contacted him as a potential surrogate mother, he had run a risk of being recorded and having his intentions and identity revealed in the media.
I.V.Ț. v. Romania 2022 This case concerned a television interview of a minor, without parental consent or adequate measures to protect her identity. The interview, which concerned the death of a schoolmate, had resulted in her being bullied and had caused her emotional stress.
The Court held that there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private life) of the Convention, finding that the domestic appellate courts in this case had only superficially balanced the question of the applicant’s right to private life and the broadcaster’s right to free expression. They had not properly taken into account the fact that she had been a minor, failing in their obligation to protect her right to private life.
The Court recalled that, even where a news report made a contribution to a public debate, the disclosure of private information – such as the identity of a minor who had witnessed a dramatic event – had not to exceed editorial discretion, and had to be justified. These considerations had been more important in the present case, where the Court expressed doubts as to the relevance to a debate of public interest of the opinions of a child who had not witnessed the event in question.
Sciacca v Italy related to a non-public figure. Photographs taken by a state agency were published in newspapers. This was found to violate Article 8 because it was not in accordance with law.
Persons Arrested & Criminal Prosecution
Khmel v. Russia At the time of the facts, the applicant was a member of the Murmansk regional legislature. He was taken to a police station on suspicion of drunk driving. He refused to give his name, behaved in an unruly manner and would not leave the building when asked to do so. The police chief invited television crews to the station, and that afternoon the applicant was filmed whilst in a dishevelled state and acting inappropriately. The Court held that there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private life) of the Convention, as in the absence of the applicant’s consent, the release of the video recording to the regional television had been in flagrant breach of the domestic law.
Axel Springer SE and RTL Television GmbH v. Germany concerned the complaint by two media companies about a judicial order banning the publication of images in which the defendant in a criminal trial for murder could be identified.
The Court held that there had been no violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the Convention. It found that the national judge had carefully balanced the opposing interests. The order had been proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued, namely to protect the personality rights of the defendant – who was not a public figure – during his trial, in the course of which he was to be presumed innocent until proved guilty. The Court noted in particular that the order had not been a particularly severe restriction on reporting; taking images as such had not been limited.
Mediengruppe Österreich GmbH v. Austria e concerned a court order for the daily newspaper Österreich, published by the applicant company, not to publish particular information about an individual indirectly connected to the campaign of the Freedom Party of Austria candidate in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. The newspaper had published a photo of the brother of the candidate’s office manager in a “right-wing scene” and revealed that he was a “convicted neo-Nazi”. The conviction dated from 20 years before and was spent. ”
The Court held that there had been no violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the Convention, finding that, in the specific circumstances of the case the reasons adduced by the domestic courts had been undertaken in conformity with the Court’s case-law criteria and had been “relevant and sufficient” to justify the interference with the applicant company’s right to freedom of expression. Accordingly, the Court saw no strong reasons to substitute the domestic courts’ views with its own and held that the interference had been “necessary in a democratic society”.
In Khuzhin v Russia, the publication of photographs on television of persons accused of serious crimes was found to have no legitimate purpose informational and to violate Article 8.