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Privacy: an important human right
The right to privacy has been in the media a lot lately, and is increasingly the subject of public debate.
Privacy is a basic and important human right, enshrined in international law, although its domestic application is still limited.
The right to privacy helps us maintain our autonomy and individuality.
Privacy has been a particularly important right for our community. For example, in 1991 Nicholas Toonen argued before the UN Human Rights Committee that Tasmanian law criminalising consensusal same-sex relationships violated his right to privacy under international law. As a result of this case, Tasmania decriminalised homosexuality.
HIV and other health issues in our community have raised a range of privacy issues, including issues around disclosing personal health information. As social networking and other online technologies become more integrated in our everyday lives, our privacy becomes even more vulnerable. For example, there were recent reports that thousands of people’s Grindr profiles were exposed as a result of a hacking incident.
While social media is a great tool for getting information out to like-minded people, which the GLRL is particularly fond of doing (like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/NSW-Gay-and-Lesbian-Rights-Lobby/116572905335 or follow us on Twitter: @NSWGLRL) we have to be mindful that unless we protect ourselves, information we might not necessarily want in the public sphere could easily get out there.
We can run the risk of sharing more of our lives than we might want to with our current or potential employers, family members and people we have never even met.
Next week is Privacy Awareness Week (April 29 to May 5). This is a great opportunity to exercise your privacy rights and take steps to make sure your personal information is handled appropriately.
Protect your personal information by:
• Asking a few questions next time someone asks you for personal information like your name, date of birth and where you live. It’s your information, don’t just hand it over without asking “Why?”
• Checking your online privacy settings so you are aware of how your information is used. Thinking about how much personal information you reveal.
• Reading privacy policies to know how an organisation protects your information.
For more information about Privacy Awareness Week, visit www.privacyawarenessweek.org
By LAINIE ARNOLD, NSW GLRL