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The laws protecting personal privacy in England and Wales have evolved over many years, and until quite recently were derived from diverse sources, including the law of confidence, copyright, trespass, the European Convention on Human Rights, and statutes such as the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, the Human Rights Act 1998, and the Data Protection Act 1998. Prior to the implementation of the Human Rights Act the traditional law of confidence had developed incrementally, and there was much confusion about whether the origin of the law lay in equity or in tort.
The purpose of this book is to analyse the new law which has evolved rapidly since the passage of the Human Rights Act, applying a new methodology and language to the modern legal and media landscape. In particular the effect of the internet is considered in some detail, since it is now an enormously important means of instant communication, via websites and email. The new methodology rests upon a claim for "misuse of private information"; the new claim is significantly different from the law concerning commercial confidences, in its nature, scope and application and the various defences that may be available. It is therefore not the purpose of this book to analyse the traditional law of confidence, but to focus entirely upon the law concerning the misuse of private information. The authors, all highly experienced practitioners in the fields of human rights and media law, have between them appeared in many of the modern English cases on privacy.