Definition, Types, and Example of Invasion of Privacy
Published December 5, 2022
In the past, invasion of privacy was quite easy to spot. After all, the offender must be in the vicinity of the victim in order to invade their privacy. Today, however, with the use of modern technology, an offender can invade the privacy of a victim without leaving their house. So, catching them in the act can be tricky.
For that reason, it has become common to falsely accuse someone of this crime despite the lack of evidence. If you or a loved one is a victim of such accusations, then you’ve come to the right place.
This article will attempt to explain how this specific crime works by going over some real-life examples of invasion of privacy. But first, it would help if you understand what invasion of privacy is in the first place.
What Is Privacy Invasion or Invasion of Privacy?
As the name implies, invasion of privacy is when a person’s privacy is violated in any way. To be precise, it’s any action that publicizes any information about an individual that’s supposed to be private.
The more technical definition would be ‘when your reasonable expectation of privacy is invaded.’
The ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’ is an important factor here, but we’ll get to that later. For now, it might be better to illustrate this further by looking at some real-life examples of invasion of privacy.
Real-Life Examples of Invasion of Privacy
Below are some of the most common instances of invasion of privacy:
- Your landlord or lessor installed security cameras inside your apartment without notice.
- Your therapist revealed sensitive information about your case to other people.
- Your employer is selling your personal information to a third party without your permission.
- A close relative took a picture of you in the nude and posted it in public.
- The phone company is intercepting your personal calls.
Invasion of privacy can happen in different settings. It can happen to employees, therapy patients, and even average Joes. Each case can be categorized into a type depending on the circumstances.
4 Types of Invasion of Privacy
There are four types of invasion of privacy, and they typically vary according to how the invasion was done by the perpetrator. Here’s a closer look at each type.
Intrusion of One’s Solitude or Seclusion
Intrusion of an individual’s solitude or seclusion, or in short, intrusion, has to do with location.
Basically, it’s when someone invades your privacy in a place where they shouldn’t have been able to.
Let’s say you’re trying out clothes in a store. Naturally, you’d expect to have privacy while you change inside the changing room. However, if you find out there’s a hidden camera inside, it’s safe to assume your privacy has been invaded. That’s because you expect to be left alone in solitude, yet you were intruded on.
Public Disclosure of Private Facts
Public disclosure of private facts, or disclosure, in short, has to do with the information.
To put it simply, this type of invasion of privacy occurs when information that’s supposed to be kept private is made public. Suppose you’re sharing sensitive information with your therapist. If it turns out they share that information with other patients, then they would have invaded your privacy through disclosure.
Publicity That Places a Person in a False Light
Publicity that places a person in a false light, also known as deception, has to do with reputation.
Deception is when someone is portraying you in a negative and, most of the time, untrue light to the public. It’s similar to defamation, except it doesn’t require the culprit to outright ‘defame’ you.
For example, a neighbor is telling your other neighbors that there’s a good chance you’re an abuser simply because of how you act. They’re not defaming you since a case of defamation would have been if they were outright saying you’re an abuser. They are simply making suggestive comments that are untrue.
Nevertheless, it still puts you in a negative light. In that case, they’re invading your privacy by sticking their nose in your business when in reality, there’s no instance of abuse in your household.
Appropriation of a Person’s Likeness for One’s Own Gain
Appropriation of a person’s likeness for one’s own gain has to do with financial gain.
It’s when the perpetrator uses information about you for commercial purposes.
For instance, if someone took a photo of you without your permission and sold it afterward on the internet to make a profit, then they would have invaded your privacy through the appropriation of your likeness.
These are the four main types of invasion of privacy. Keep in mind that certain cases can belong to multiple types at once. Let’s say we combine the first type and the fourth type. So, here’s how it’ll go:
There’s a hidden camera in a store’s changing room. They took pictures of you in the nude and sold them on the internet to earn money. In this case, they invaded your privacy through intrusion and appropriation.
Similarly, there are cases where it looks like a case of invasion of privacy, but it’s actually not.
What Counts As Invasion of Privacy, and What Doesn’t?
There are a couple of conditions that must be met before you can truly call a situation or scenario a case of invasion of privacy. Here’s a look at some of the basic conditions, examples that meet these conditions, and counterexamples that don’t meet these conditions.
You Have a Reasonable Expectation of Privacy
There are instances where a person may expect privacy in a situation where it’s not reasonable.
EXAMPLE: If you’re changing clothes in a clothing store’s changing room, it’s reasonable and understandable to expect privacy while doing so. It’s only common decency for the store.
COUNTEREXAMPLE: If you’re changing in a sauna changing room, you shouldn’t expect privacy. It’s unreasonable because, in this case, the changing room is not locked and accessible to everyone.
The ’Perpetrator’ Intentionally Invaded Your Privacy
There are instances where the supposed perpetrator actually didn’t invade your privacy on purpose.
EXAMPLE: You’re changing clothes in a clothing store’s changing room, and a person is peeking at you intently for several minutes. It’s apparent that it’s intentional, so in that case, they’ve invaded your privacy.
COUNTEREXAMPLE: You’re changing clothes in the changing room, and you forget to lock the door, and a person accidentally enters. It was not their intention to see you, so it’s not an invasion of privacy.
The Facts Disclosed About You Are Private
Not every piece of information that would be publicly disclosed about you will be private. Some are already public in the first place, and the only difference now is it’s getting revealed to a larger audience.
EXAMPLE: Your health practitioner is sharing your medical information with other people. Medical information is supposedly private, so disclosing it to the public constitutes an invasion of privacy.
COUNTEREXAMPLE: You won a competition, and a journalist covered you in their news article without your permission. You may not have given permission, but the fact that you won the competition is no longer private. So, while the journalist is disclosing to a larger audience, it’s not an invasion of privacy.
The ‘Perpetrator’ Were Not Obliged To Disclose the Private Facts
There are cases where the perpetrator is legally obliged to disclose private facts about you. In those cases, if they end up disclosing the information, they’re not invading your privacy.
EXAMPLE: Your health practitioner is sharing your medical information with other people. They’re not legally obliged to share it with others, so what they’re doing constitutes an invasion of privacy.
COUNTEREXAMPLE: Your health practitioner is sharing your medical information with the police, perhaps because you’re part of the investigation and they need the information. The health practitioner is only disclosing the facts because they’re legally obliged to do so. Hence, they’re not invading your privacy.
The Publicity Is Putting You in a Bad Light
In the case of the third type, it would only count as an invasion of privacy if the publicity that the ‘perpetrator’ is doing puts you in a bad light. Otherwise, it’s not an invasion of privacy.
EXAMPLE: A coworker is making suggestive comments that you’re a felon to convince your employer to fire you. You have no criminal records. This is an invasion of privacy because it puts you in a bad light.
COUNTEREXAMPLE: A coworker is playing a prank on you by telling your other coworkers that it’s your birthday when in reality, it’s not. It might be a form of deception, but it’s not an invasion of privacy as it doesn’t put you in a bad light. Your coworker also doesn’t intend to put you in a bad light by doing this.
The ‘Perpetrator’ Is Appropriating Your Likeness for Financial Gain
In the case of the fourth type, it would only constitute an invasion of privacy if the perpetrator is appropriating your likeness for their financial gain. Otherwise, it’s not an invasion of privacy.
EXAMPLE: A stranger took a picture of you and sold it on the internet to make money without your awareness or permission. This is an invasion of privacy since they’re earning money from it.
COUNTEREXAMPLE: A stranger took a photo of you and showed it to a friend, saying you look like a celebrity. This is not an invasion of privacy since they didn’t do it for financial gain.
You Didn’t Authorize or Give Permission
Every type of invasion of privacy will only apply if you don’t give permission to intrude on you in your solitude, disclose your private facts, talk about you in a bad light, or use your likeness.
EXAMPLE: A stranger asked to take a photo of you. You accepted, but when they asked if they could post those photos on the internet, you declined, yet they still did so. This is an invasion of privacy.
COUNTEREXAMPLE: A stranger asked to take a photo of you. You accepted and agreed to have those photos posted on the web. They did so. This is not an invasion of privacy because you authorized them.
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About The Author
Lenard Arceo is an experienced writer who enjoys coding software when not working. He has been blogging for a number of renowned publications for years. His commitment to writing facts based content has allowed him to help his readers uncover the truth and render justice in their lives.