The Act of misusing information that was agreed mutually to be considered as private or can be understood and comprehended by a common reasonable private, when shared, leaked or used wrongfully to satisfy some other means other than the purpose for which it had been shared is known as misuse of private information. The concept is very similar with the concept of Breach of Confidence but it has very fine and subtle differences which has been acknowledged by a few foreign courts and it has been given the state of a separate tort. In India, such issues of tort are not codified and punishments are derived from other existing laws and statutes.
Misuse of private information as a branch which is deeply connected to breach of confidence but still a distinct tort as it does not need to satisfy the requirement of a previous confidential relationship unlike breach of confidence. In addition, actions for misuse of private information can readily attract tortious damages, while those for breach of confidence may receive damages only as an equitable remedy within the discretion of the presiding judge. Any action can be classified as a misuse of private information where even without signing or entering into a bond, there is prior expectation of a sensible man set as a standard that the shared information is not to be disclosed.
Breach of confidence is, importantly, an equitable cause of action, whereas Misuse of Private Information is a civil tort. The essential difference is that misuse of private information concerns information which is personal, and private by its very nature (such as bank statements or hospital records). On the other hand, breach of confidence can relate to information which is sensitive or secret but which would not have to be of a personal nature (like the formula for Coke, or a company’s audit documents). A company could bring an action for the latter, but not the former.
An activity is not private simply because it is not done in public. It does not suffice to make an act private because, because it occurs on private property, it has such measures of protection from the public gaze as the characteristics of the property, the nature of the activity, the locality, and the disposition of the property owner combine to afford. Certain kinds of information about a person, such as information relating to health, personal relationships, or finances, may be easy to identify as private, as may certain kinds of activity which a reasonable person, applying contemporary standards of morals and behaviour, would understand to be meant to be unobserved. The requirement that disclosure or observation of information or conduct would be highly offensive to a reasonable person of ordinary sensibilities is in many circumstances a useful practical test of what is private.
In India, there has been growing awareness about confidentiality in recent years. The tort law in India is not codified nor has the misuse of private information been treated as a distinct concept. Breaches of confidentiality and misuse of private information are overlapping and both derive their roots from the right to privacy but the sad part is that the right to privacy has also not been identified as a fundamental right. It is not granted as a specific constitutional right in any country in the world. It has been derived by the Supreme Court of India using the provisions of Articles 21, 19(1)(a) and 19(1)(g) given in the Constitution.
A citizen has a right to safeguard the privacy of his or her own family, marriage, procreation, motherhood, child-bearing and education among other matters and nobody can publish anything regarding the same unless:
(i) he or she consents or voluntarily thrusts himself into controversy
(ii) the publication is made using material which is in public records (except for cases of rape, kidnapping and abduction)
(iii) he or she is a public servant and the matter relates to his/her discharge of official duties.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.
We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge