The right to information does not cover speculation regarding the filiation of a public figure
In its judgment of November 18, 2013 the First Chamber of the Constitutional Court has granted the appellant, Gonzalo Miró, relief, and has set aside the Supreme Court judgment, acknowledging that the revelation on television of the identity of the father of a public figure constitutes a violation of the right to personal privacy.
In this case, in which our partner Carolina Pina defended the appellant, the Constitutional Court held that constitutional protection of one’s private life takes precedence over the right to information even in the case of public figures.
The most relevant aspects of the judgment are the following:
- Information on paternal filiation is not of public interest, irrespective of the fact that this information may interest viewers to a greater or lesser extent, and the public figure status of the right-holder cannot alter this conclusion. The decision follows the Constitutional Court’s previous judgment, case 134/1999, on July 15, 1999 (Sara Montiel case).
- In order for the right to information or freedom of expression to prevail, the information that has been revealed must affect, in view of its subject-matter and value, the public sphere, which does not coincide with aspects that simply arouse other people’s curiosity.
- The fact that the information is offered as mere rumors or insinuations does not mean that an intrusion of privacy has not taken place.
- It is irrelevant that the information disclosed was already public. The fact that an intimate detail has become well known without its owner’s consent does not mean that such detail is no longer protected by the right to privacy. If this were not the case it would be tantamount to limiting the right to privacy, and would introduce an unreasonable burden on its owner who would be forced to bring legal action, solely in order to avoid his passivity being considered a waiver of a specific aspect of his privacy.
- The judgment recognizes the post-mortem ownership of the right to privacy, insofar as the plaintiff requested relief both in his own name as well as in the name of his deceased mother, since this right extends, not just to aspects of one’s own personal life, but also to certain aspects of other people’s lives with whom one has a special, personal relationship.
Garrigues Telecommunications & Media Department