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Invasion of Online Privacy: An Overview and Possible Case for Personal Injury?

When you think of personal injury claims, you are probably thinking of something like motorcycle accidents. With the growing popularity of the Internet, online privacy has become a major issue among most users, overtaking online security concerns on viruses and malware. Internet privacy refers to personal privacy that is attacked by hackers or shared by unscrupulous persons who may have gained unauthorized access into one’s personal network.

Under the laws in the United States, privacy can take the form in different ways. For example, the privacy of a public figure is less compared to a private individual thus disclosure of information is treated differently. Nonetheless, everyone is entitled to “right to privacy” or the right to be left alone. These laws are embodied in the following:

The Fourth Amendment – or the right to demand a warrant before being searched or seized

The First Amendment – or the right to assemble freely

The Fourteenth Amendment – the right to due process and the right to privacy in child rearing, marriage, family, procreation, and motherhood.

Levels of Online Privacy

Before you go rushing to file a case of invasion of privacy, you must understand that with online privacy, there are different levels.

The personal level is when the user can protect private information by controlled that has access to the information. For instance, on social media, a user can limit access to personal information to selected people. Facebook has allowed personal and business accounts so users can draw a line between the two and still enjoy the social platform. Thus, anything you post on a public forum is not an invasion of your privacy because you volunteered the information.

Under this level, there are sublevels. If a user visits a website, he or she may do so and not worry about being tracked unless the websites uses “cookies” to track online movement. Fortunately, cookies can be turned off by engaging “Internet anonymity.”

Once a user subscribes to a website, he submits personal information voluntarily and this is when breach in privacy can happen so it is important to carefully assess and pick the right websites to subscribe to. Fortunately, if a user becomes a customer, then the website has the obligation to protect the information the user provides such as address, phone number, and email address.

On a local and national level, authorities are able to extract private information from devices like smartphones and computers in order to prove their case. For some, this constitutes an invasion of privacy even with the warrant and because of this; a very recent move by top tech companies is providing users with a way to encrypt their data so the government is unable to “snoop through their online activities.”

How to Protect Your Privacy

There are simple ways to keep your online privacy safe because a legal battle on invasion of privacy is almost always expensive and tedious.

Be careful what you post

Even with a password, your devices can be accessed so avoid keeping private information off your smartphone and computers. Private information includes photos, financial information, Social Security numbers, and even the identity of family members. You could mask the identity of your parents by not giving them contact names such as “Mom” or “Dad” and your children can be tagged with special nicknames so their numbers will not stand out in case your phone is stolen or lost.

Don’t open emails from unknown senders

Create strong passwords and change them frequently

The Tort Law on Invasion of Privacy

Tort refers to a civil injury or wrongdoing and personal injury definitely falls under this category. A tort can also be a criminal violation but in most cases, a jail sentence is not what is sought after rather compensation for damages done to the injured party.

Under the modern tort law, there are 4 categories regarding privacy invasion:

Public disclosure of private and truthful facts

Electronic or physical intrusion into one’s private affairs or quarters

Unauthorized use of one’s likeness or name for gain

Publication of facts that can put the injured party in bad light even if the facts are not defamatory. For instance, it is wrong to post or bring up the past of a reformed person

because it can prevent him from getting hired.

Unfortunately, even with these tort laws, you will need an excellent attorney to help you maneuver through the intricate and complex jungle that is the law. In fact, there are two types of intrusions into privacy: solitude and seclusion.

Intrusion of solitude happens when the first party known to the second party intrudes on the private life of second party while intrusion of seclusion is best described as hacking or a person unknown to the injured party intrudes on his private life. A lawyer would have to prove the intrusion, intent to deceive or commit fraud, and intent to gain something from the intrusion. There have been cases when the judge rules in favor of the injured party but does not award damages if there is no evidence of personal injury.

The complexity of personal injury from invasion of privacy requires the expertise of a lawyer experienced in these types of situations. Plus, it is far better to seek legal remedy (website) than fight back with your own version of revenge by posting incriminating photos of the person who you think invaded your privacy.


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