Does privacy still exist?

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by Catherine Holland

GMAZ interview by Javier Soto

Posted on September 29, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 25 at 1:35 PM

PHOENIX -- Once upon a time, it was up to professional photographers and the paparazzi to get photos and video the public wanted to see. These days, anybody with a cell phone can do it. What does that mean for people's privacy? Does such a notion even exist in the world of YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter?

When it comes to privacy, context is key. We all know that the laws are a little bit different when somebody in the public eye is involved. Their reasonable expectations of privacy are different from those who have not deliberately put themselves out there.

In general, invasion of privacy falls into four legal categories.

  1. Intrusion of solitude
  2. Public disclosure of private facts
  3. False light
  4. Appropriation

There also are specific privacy laws governing certain types of information, including health, financial, online and communication.

While the issue of privacy is not always black and white, there are some important things you need to consider.

"What you do out in public, anybody can film," Chandler attorney Thomas Ryan, a specialist in personal injury, explained to 3TV's Javier Soto. "What you do in the privacy of your own home, you have the right to have that remain private."

You have legal recourse when that right is violated, but it often comes too late.

"If somebody is taking your private time and making that public, that's a false-light invasion of privacy and you can go to court for damages. … But those are weak remedies when it's your reputation that's being damaged," Ryan explain.

There's another thing to consider and it has to do with who knows about the recording and when they know it.

"In Arizona, the law is if one person in the conversation consents to the taping -- even if you're not the person who consents -- that's a lawful taping," Ryan explained. "You have to be careful about that."

While consent laws vary from state to state, such recordings can be admissible in court if the proper foundation is established. With the ubiquity of cell phone cameras, much is in the hands of the person who taps the record button or snaps the photo.

"Nowadays, with cell phones, there isn't a whole lot of reflection," Ryan said. "People don't think about 'Am I violating the law or not?' The take pictures. They take videos. They post them on Facebook. The time to reflect and think about what they're doing doesn't seem to be there anymore. "

According to Ryan, that's a potentially big problem.

"That's why you end up with situations where Kate Middleton's pictures are published all over the world," he said.

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