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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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What are the laws surrounding social media and privacy?

Resolved Question:

What are the laws surrounding social media and privacy?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 3 years ago.

Alex Watts : Hello my name is XXXXX XXXXX I will help you with this. Please note that I am a working Solicitor and may be on and offline as I have to attend Court and meet with clients, even at weekends. As such you may not get an instant response when you reply, but rest assured I will be giving your question my immediate attention upon return You do not need to wait here as you will get an email when I reply.
Alex Watts : Is this for an essay please?
Customer:

Its not for an essay although I understand why you may think this, as its quite a subjective question

Customer:

The reason for my question is I feel I have been a victim for the past year, and I strongly believe social media has been the main reason behind this

Alex Watts : What has been said? Have you reported anything to the Police?
Customer:

Sorry before I go into detail, are these discussions confidential?

Alex Watts : No, it's a public website. You don't have to give your name. I just need an idea of what has been said.
Alex Watts : Your personal details are not displayed.
Customer:

I didn't realise this was public. Ok, please withhold my name from the details

Customer:

So, what is the law surrounding social media and peoples privacy?

Customer:

I mean, if individuals have captured details of your whereabouts and this has developed into a widespread topic of freedom of speech via the medium of social media, doesn't this break an invasion of privacy?

Alex Watts : Is this something the public has access to? Is what being said untrue?
Customer:

Yes the public has access to and yes its untrue

Customer:

But the main point here is privacy and human rights

Customer:

There seems to be a misalignment between society and social media

Customer:

Getting answers here seem to take a long time. Can I withdraw my request?

Alex Watts :

Forgive me, I have been in and out of meetings.

Alex Watts :

Right Human Rights ONLY applies to government bodies, ie the Council etc.

Alex Watts :

It would NOT apply to say someone like Facebook or a Company or an individual.

Alex Watts :

Therefore you can only enforce human rights against a public body

Alex Watts :

If what is being said is malicious then it can be reported to the Police

Alex Watts :

(1)Any person who sends to another person—


(a)a [F1letter, electronic communication or article of any description] which conveys—


(i)a message which is indecent or grossly offensive;


(ii)a threat; or


(iii)information which is false and known or believed to be false by the sender; or


(b)any [F2article or electronic communication] which is, in whole or part, of an indecent or grossly offensive nature,

Customer:

So why do they term it human rights if its not for people?

Alex Watts :

An individual can claim a human right but ONLY against a public body

Alex Watts :

So for example the Home Office or the Council

Alex Watts :

I could not claim a human right against you

Alex Watts :

Or against say McDonalds.

Alex Watts :

If what they are saying is not grossly offensive but untrue you may be able to sue for defamation but that is a long and very expensive process

Customer:

But the problem, is the scale of defamatory comments i.e. via social media, there seems to be no protection

Customer:

what happens in society is only the tip of the iceberg

Alex Watts :

The only thing you can do is sue the individuals concerned or seek a Court Order to have the social media outlet provide the name/address of the individuals.

Alex Watts :

I agree its unfair, but I can only tell you what the legal situation is

Customer:

For example, if someone shouted homophopic abuse and I went down the road of defamation, what case do I have and what case does the offender have?

Alex Watts :

That would be a criminal offence though.

Alex Watts :

That is different

Customer:

In what way?

Alex Watts :

Calling someone a thief for example when they are not, is not criminal and only a civil matter

Alex Watts :

I am sorry if this is not the answer you want and certainly not the one I wanted to give you, but I have a duty to be honest

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

Customer:

Thats fine, thanks for your honesty. Although, I struggle to realise what protection there is with social media surrounding privacy. It seems there is none really, and people have total freedom of speech, regardless of the impact it can cause to people in society, nationwide and internationally.

Alex Watts :

You can sue for defamation of course, but in reality that cost is going to be in excess of £15,000 - because they are specialist proceedings in the High Court

Customer:

And also specialist solicitors?

Alex Watts :

Sadly yes

Customer:

Also, if the victim only gets the impact of what is being said in social media, he may not have any proof so how do you go about arguing this type of case?

Alex Watts :

You would get screen grabs of what was being said

Alex Watts :

A suspicion alone is not enough

Customer:

But if it is well and truly in the public eye, and the individual cannot find these screen grabs yet he continually get judged and commented with innuendos within society, that person has no case right?

Alex Watts :

No case - correct

Alex Watts :

There needs to be evidence

Customer:

Within the privacy laws, there is an article called Privacy and the Media, does social media count as "media"?

Alex Watts :

Yes it would do

Customer:

So if you wwere to fight such a case, then its really this article that would be used alongside the case?

Customer:

What is the name of articles, surrounding defamation?

Alex Watts :

defamation act - there are various ones with the latest act in 2013

Customer:

Also, if your personal life has been captured on social media, for example, if people checked in at places you went etc wouldnt this account for an invasion of privacy?

Alex Watts :

Yes but that is not illegal.

Alex Watts :

You only have a human right for this against public bodies

Customer:

But wouldnt this be deemed someone else private data?

Alex Watts :

No.

Alex Watts :

That would only be your address, bank details etc

Customer:

So it currently isn't illegal for a collection of individuals to capture an individuals whereabouts on a regular basis?

Alex Watts :

No.

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything else for you?

Customer:

But isn't this victimisation?

Alex Watts :

Yes but that in itself is not illegal

Customer:

What do you mean?

Alex Watts :

Victimisation only applies, for example in the workplace.

Customer:

Not in public?

Alex Watts :

If I were to victimise you, it may not be nice, but not necessarily

Alex Watts :

illega

Alex Watts :

illegal

Alex Watts :

It may be an offence under the Public Order Act but thats it

Customer:

So people can track your every move and it is not illegal on a regular basis?

Alex Watts :

Yes

Customer:

I am truly surprise, is this a form of stalking then?

Alex Watts :

Not really.

Alex Watts :

You asked about laws social media and privacy, not about stalking.

Alex Watts :

There is the Protection From Harassment Act when someone pursues a course of conduct likely to cause alarm harassment etc

Alex Watts :

But you dont know who is doing this, so they can't be prosecuted

Customer:

I see#

Customer:

ok, I think you have answered my question now

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything else?

Alex Watts :

If this answers your question could I invite you leave feedback on my service which I hope has been excellent today, if you need more information or help then please click reply.


Please remember that I am always happy to help if you have future questions, even if I am in Court I can normally respond within a few hours. For future information, please start them with ‘For Alex W’.


 


Please bookmark my profile if you wish for future help: http://www.justanswer.co.uk/law/expert-alexwatts/

Customer:

No thats fine

Alex Watts :

Have a good weekend

Customer:

Yes you too

Customer:

Thankyou

Alex Watts :

Thanks!

Alex Watts :

All the best with this

Customer:

Thanks

Alex Watts :

Bye

Ash and other Law Specialists are ready to help you