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Copyright (c) 2006 Dickenson Law School. All Rights Reserved.
Penn State Law Review

Article: The Caroline Verdict: Protecting Individual Privacy Against Media Invasion as a Matter of Human Rights

Winter, 2006

110 Penn St. L. Rev. 599


Robin D. Barnes*


The European Union's Court of Human Rights is leading the way in recognizing the continuing duty of democratic societies to protect the sphere of privacy that not only leaves its citizens secure in their person and property, but also cultivates family dignity, privacy and opportunities for self-determination. On June 24, 2004, in Case of Von Hannover v. Germany, the European Court of Human Rights radically altered the rules governing the unauthorized publication of exposes that offer intimate details of celebrities' private lives. 1

This case, which involved a woman of enormous courage and celebrity, is less momentous for its visibility than for its considerable value to democracy. While most celebrities remain relatively secluded, convinced they lack power against the media, Princess Caroline of Monaco has been resolute in her quest for justice. 2 After fighting in the German courts for nearly ten years, Caroline Von Hannover took the case for protection of her privacy to the European Court of Human Rights. 3 Invariably, others will benefit from her perseverance in ways that she could not as she waded through the appellate process. 4 In Von Hannover, the European Court of Human Rights offers an exceptionally clear statement of judicial recognition of the relationship between privacy and personal development. Considering this decision emanated from one of the world's most respected courts, the international community will reap enormous benefits.

This essay outlines the fundamental claims raised by Princess Caroline against media invasion of her personal life. In addition, ...
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