Does the threat of breach of privacy constitute harassment?
Breach of privacy and even the threat of breach of privacy could constitute harassment even though a claim for breach of privacy is often brought in addition to a claim for harassment
Harassment often involves a breach of the victim’s privacy. In some cases, there would be a threat by the harasser to breach the victim’s privacy but there does need to be an actual breach of the victim’s privacy by the harasser because the threat itself, or having the Sword of Damocles hanging over your head, is enough to constitute harassment.
In recent years, it has become more difficult to obtain an interim or an urgent injunction for harassment. Mainly because of freedom of speech concerns, judges are reluctant to grant an injunction for harassment where the harassment is concerning internet posts. However, in relation to harassment that involves the victim’s breach of your privacy, or the threat of breaching the victim’s privacy, it is still possible to apply and to be granted a privacy injunction on an emergency basis, often without having to give prior notice to the harasser.
Under English law, everyone is entitled to a right to private life, even if there are aspects of their private life, which are unpleasant, immoral or even harmful. Where the sharing of intimate relationships is concerned, if someone is about the share your private information, or has already shared it online, regardless of whether the information shared is true, the reasonable expectation of privacy exists in nearly all instances of intimate relationships. There are many instances of breach of privacy where the disclosure of details of intimate relationships could lead to the grant of an emergency injunction.
When the shared private information is false, the harassment victim might also have a claim under defamation of character, in addition to a claim for breach of privacy. Whenever there is a significant breach of privacy and/or breach of personal data, the victim may be granted an injunction from the outset and without a trial. This is helpful if you are either trying to prevent the misuse of private information, or where the misuse of the private information or the breach of personal data that has already occurred, is still limited in scope.