NewsNews-homepagePrivacy: a balance between self-determination and higher interests of the State

By Furio Ghezzi, attorney-at-law


When I was at high school, I read the book written in 1949 by George Orwell entitled “1984”. Dystopian novel telling about a society governed by a single party headed by the “big brother”, which no one has ever seen but which was everywhere and governs everything and everyone by controlling everything with tools installed in each house. It was the seventies and there was already the feeling of the control, the intrusion and the violation of privacy. However, only in 1996 with the law n. 675, the Government officially regulated the right to privacy of personal data and sanctioned for the first time their abuse; although the rule was intended to protect the constitutional rights of the individual, we cannot fail to grasp the occasion of combining individual rights with society needs. Privacy today is no longer “the right to be let alone” but is summed up in a complex set of actions that Alan Westin defines as the legitimate claim of each person to establish the extent to which he wishes to share himself with others and as the control of time, place and events to be communicated to others. It means the right to withdraw or to participate in a choice. It is the right of the individual to control the disclosure of their data; it is a strictly personal possession. Privacy is synonymous with the right to be left calm. But man lives in communion with others and needs to participate and communicate. When this multifaceted aspect of privacy is associated with the power of the State to act for the common good, recent concerns about invasion and individual privacy violations are widely justified. This thought highlights the three cornerstones on which the European Regulation is based, in fact the right to privacy does not end with the valorization and protection of the individual solipsism or of the ius excludendi alios; it has a broader scope which is the right to self-determination of what you want to communicate. The reference to Articles 3 and 13 of the Constitution is evident and the subordination of the personal right to privacy in respect of general interests continues to be a very delicate issue that evokes the scenario of supremacy of the State over the individual.

Therefore the necessity of mapping the risks of personal data disclosure and to take note of the different interests emerging in each single passage arise; hence it shall be affirmed the need to trace the use of the data and limit its use to the actual necessity and then abandon it as soon as it is no longer useful to treat it. It must also be added that the vertiginous technological evolution offers day after day the use of previously impossible data. So it is a constantly evolving subject that requires the operator the full awareness of being in an interpretative perspective of constant evolution. In conclusion, privacy is not a series of formal obligations but a philosophy of work and a norm to be respected of constitutional value as demonstrated also by the very high penalties foreseen for violations.