New privacy law will clarify existing rights

It’s an important part of the constitution, and clarifying existing rights will be a good thing. But will it take into account online rights?

Ideally, the Minister would have liked to publish his defamation legislation first and then act later to turn the Murray report into law, but he accepted that there was no point pushing the matter.

The Cabinet has now decided that the recommendations included in the Murray report should be turned into the heads of a Bill – the main points – in two, or three weeks.

The timetable is not without ambition, since drafting such a piece of legislation – even in its abbreviated form – may prove no easy task for parliamentary draughtsmen. Though some observers suspect a major rift between the Minister and Fianna Fáil Ministers, the reality is more prosaic, since both sides are agreed on the destination.

Though some in Fianna Fáil might believe that extra privacy rights are on the way, that is not the case, since the legislation to come will bring greater clarity to rights already in existence under the European Court of Human Rights and the Irish Constitution.

Though they exist, the public is entirely unaware of them. A better-informed public, backed by a clearly-written piece of Irish law – could yet occasionally put manners on misbehaving journalists, and, perhaps, in the future prevent the publication of something that would have been better unpublished.