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Freedom and privacy of speech: balancing two rights

By Eric Barendt


Privacy and freedom of speech are important human rights, but until recently they have not been strongly protected in English law. In English law freedom of speech has traditionally been a residual liberty, in that it existed only when its exercise was not restricted by statute or by the common law. Libel law, largely still governed by the common law, is concerned with the protection of an individual’s right to reputation; it has been an important restriction on the exercise of free speech and freedom of the press. But there has been no explicit right to privacy, and I will spend a little time explaining why privacy has been left unprotected by the law. Both rights are guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which has been incorporated into the law of the United Kingdom by the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA

Topics: K3254, K3263
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