Robbie Reid

Project Title: A critical evaluation of the protection of privacy and reputation rights by criminal law

As legal recognition of privacy and reputation rights continues to grow, this research will examine why it is that criminal law does so little to protect these fundamental rights and question whether it should play a more prominent role in safeguarding them. Building on this, the impact of increased criminal law regulation in this area will be assessed with a view to proposing a principled framework for criminal law’s protection of privacy and reputation rights.

Why is this important? Violations of these rights are wide-ranging (e.g. intentional data breaches; disclosure of confidential information; communication of false statements) and the impact of such conduct on those affected can be devastating and long-lasting. However, redress for these harms is typically available not via criminal prosecution, but through potentially costly civil law actions. Access to justice may be difficult in such cases: not only does a civil finding of liability fail to send a statement about the culpability of the wrongdoer in the same way that criminal law does, but the primary remedy is compensation rather than the range of sanctions (e.g. imprisonment; community sanctions) available under criminal law.

While some attempts have been made to protect privacy and reputation rights through the introduction of statutory offences in Scotland, these have been limited, and there has been no specific or principled consideration of criminal law’s role. This research project will fill this gap.

Awarded: Carnegie PhD Scholarship

Field: Law

University: University of Glasgow

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