When the European Convention on Human Rights was written and adopted in the early 1950s, few doubted that the chief threat to private life was the state — the informer, the watcher, the secret policeman. Today there is widespread agreement that segments of the press and television pose a different but still real threat to private life, and the jurisprudence of the Convention has shifted to keep pace with the change.
Observers with a sense of history have noted that the tabloids’ self-justification, advanced in the name of press freedom, mirrors that of the authoritarian state. The Sun columnist Jane Moore admonishes errant public figures: “If you don’t want your private life splashed all over the papers, then behave yourselves.” Or, as it was once put, if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear — for there is only one way the state or the Sun can know whether you are behaving yourself.
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