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invasion of privacy

n. the intrusion into the personal life of another, without just cause, which can give the person whose privacy has been invaded a right to bring a lawsuit for damages against the person or entity that intruded. However, public personages are not protected in most situations, since they have placed themselves already within the public eye, and their activities (even personal and sometimes intimate) are considered newsworthy, i.e. of legitimate public interest. However, an otherwise non-public individual has a right to privacy from: a) intrusion on one's solitude or into one's private affairs; b) public disclosure of embarrassing private information; c) publicity which puts him/her in a false light to the public; d) appropriation of one's name or picture for personal or commercial advantage. Lawsuits have arisen from magazine articles on obscure geniuses, use of a wife's name on a hospital insurance form to obtain insurance payment for delivery of a mistress's baby, unauthorized use of a girl's photo to advertise a photographer, and "tabloid" journalism treatment of people as freaks. There are also numerous instances of governmental invasion of privacy such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation compiling files on people considered as political opponents, partially corrected by the passage of the Freedom of Information Act in 1966. The right to privacy originated with an article in the Harvard Law Review in the 1890s written by lawyers "Bull" Warren and future Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis.

See also: right to privacy 

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The People's Law Dictionary by Gerald and Kathleen Hill Publisher Fine Communications

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