Britain’s proposed celebrity privacy register

Lord Justice Leveson’s proposal for a celebrity privacy register that would allow famous individuals to opt out of the media limelight has divided magazine editors, writes Sebastian Huempfer.

The case

Lord Justice Leveson, who is leading an inquiry into media ethics following the 2011 phone-hacking scandal in Britain, has raised the idea of a celebrity privacy register. This register would allow people who are under media scrutiny to register their wish to remain private. It would be backed by the threat of sanctions against media outlets violating the privacy of those who have registered.

The proposal met with support from some celebrity magazine editors present at the hearing. However, the idea was not received favourably by all. The editor of celebrity magazine OK!, Lisa Byrne, told the inquiry that the system would not work if all celebrities participated in it. The editor of Heat magazine, Lucie Cave, pointed out that such a register would help celebrities present themselves in way at odds with their private conduct, and that it was indeed in the public interest that such double standards are exposed. Speaking on the BBC, the chief executive officer of PR company Outside argued that the register would be “unworkable and impractical” and could harm magazines.

Author opinion

A privacy register is a bad idea for two reasons. First of all, it just won’t work. Like super-injunctions, the privacy register would not stop internet users from reporting and finding out about those who wish to remain private. Moreover, if it did work, such a register would be a bad thing. Lucie Cave is right: nobody has a right to commercialise their public image and have it protected by the state if it is totally at odds with their private behaviour. If I make money and take to the limelight claiming to have a quality that I demonstrably don’t have, then I’m lying. And responsible media have not only the right but an obligation to expose such lies. It is in the public interest that they do. I would hope that Lord Leveson’s remark was off-hand. If he meant what he said, he’s not only about to recommend a bad policy – he’s also shown that he does not understand how the media works, and should work, in the 21st century.

- Sebastian Huempfer

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Comments (1)

Automated machine translations are provided by Google Translate. They should give you a rough idea of what the contributor has said, but cannot be relied on to give an accurate, nuanced translation. Please read them with this in mind.

  1. Sa jedne strane se slažem da bi ovaj potez mogao biti neizvodljiv i nepraktičan, jer su poznati ustvari poznati zbog svog eksponiranja u javnosti. A sa druge stane bilo bi dobro da postoji postoji ovakva opcija za one koji žele privatnost.

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