The U.S. has less stringent privacy laws than do many other countries. The desire to shield people’s private lives on the Internet has prompted new thinking about how to balance openness with a need to restrict release of personal details.
A name or likeness—Angelina Jolie’s face, for example—cannot be used for financial benefit in an advertisement without consent. To deal with online abuses, this common-law tort could be expanded to protect against the posting of photographs online without consent.
Breach of Confidentiality Tort
Private information disclosed in privileged relationships—to doctors, lawyers and clergy, among others—is protected. This tort law could be strengthened to cover other relationships, such as spurned lovers, former friends or ex-spouses.
Privacy in Public
Under U.S. law, a person does not retain any privacy rights when information becomes public. In Canada and many European countries, these disclosures do not imply the loss of all such rights. The U.S. should recognize that a person does not sacrifice all privacy rights when appearing in public.