Access to Public Information, Privacy, Data Protection and Retention
Mail and Guardian Media Ltd v. Chipu N.O.
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The Supreme Court of Argentina held that the publication of photographs by a magazine of a renowned political figure violated his right to private life. Renowned politician Ricardo Balbín’s son brought a lawsuit against the publisher and owner of the magazine, Gente y la actualidad, after it published an issue featuring on its cover a photograph of Balbín that was taken while he lay on his deathbed in a hospital. The Court explained that even public figures have the right to keep certain aspects of their lives private, and that publishing these photographs did not serve the public, because the news of Balbín’s death could have been provided to the public without them.
The widow and son of renowned political figure, Ricardo Balbín, brought a lawsuit against the publisher and owner of the magazine, Gente y la actualidad, after it published an issue featuring on its cover a photograph of Balbín that was taken while he lay on his deathbed in a hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.
This case holds the distinction of having been one of the first to reach the Supreme Court of Argentina on the issue of the dichotomy between the rights to privacy and freedom of expression and the social right to information.
The Court rooted its holding in the belief that even public figures have the right to keep certain aspects of their lives private and, therefore, determined that the publication of these photographs went beyond the right to information. The Court reasoned that publishing these photographs did not provide a social service, because the news of Balbín’s death could have been provided to the public without them. The Court found that the publication caused immense suffering to the family and conflicted with the undeniably private character of the moment captured.
Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case.
This decision from the Supreme Court of Argentina threatens freedom of expression and information. Considering the public interest that surrounds the lives of public figures, this holding marked a step backward for the protections usually granted to the distribution of this type of information.
Global Perspective demonstrates how the court’s decision was influenced by standards from one or many regions.
Case significance refers to how influential the case is and how its significance changes over time.
The Supreme Court of Argentina decides cases on an individual basis, and its case law does not create binding precedents. However, the Court is the ultimate interpreter of the Constitution, and, as such, its decisions are highly persuasive.
Let us know if you notice errors or if the case analysis needs revision.