The Blurred Line Between Freedom of Speech and Privacy Right:

Diary of a young lawyer...
4 min readAug 22, 2020

The Freedom of Speech and Privacy Right are two sides of the same coin, There is a thin line between Freedom of Speech and Privacy Right although Media have blurred the line between these two Rights. Both Freedom of Speech and Privacy are Fundamental Rights, which are equally recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and they are essential for a society to be Democratic.

Almost all Countries appear to expressly recognize the right to Freedom of Speech as a constitutional or Fundamental Right. Freedom of Speech, however, is not absolute; ‘as there is a famous Urdu term used for it Madar Pidar Azad’ all countries apply reasonable restrictions to it at different levels.

As stated in Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973, every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of the Press, subject to any reasonable restriction, imposed by law. And these ‘reasonable restrictions’ are basic principles or ‘Limits’ of Freedom of Speech. However, Under Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973, Journalist’s Rights for the Freedom of Expression can Be Restricted in the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, Security or Defence of Pakistan or any part thereof, Friendly Relations with the Foreign States, Public Order, or in Relation to Contempt of Court or Incitement to offence.

A similar approach is expressed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which recognizes that Freedom of expression may only be restricted as provided by law and to the extent necessary: “(1) For respect of the rights or reputations of others; (2) For the protection of national security or of public order… or of public health or morals.”

And Article 14 of the Constitution specifically guarantees that “dignity of man and, subject to law, the privacy of home, shall be inviolable” Precisely, Freedom of expression gives special rights and duties to the media. And the other side to freedom of expression is the freedom of information, which makes it possible for people to make informed decisions about their lives.

Freedom of speech only extends up to a certain point, as it is said that: ‘one person’s rights end and where another’s begin’. The entire law of human society is comprised of this line. Similarly, Famous Quote from Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.”

Simply asserts that your rights are protected up to the point until you violate someone else’s rights.

Although Media specifically Pakistani Media increasingly resorting to ‘self-censorship’ but yet in the namesake of their Right to FREEDOM OF SPEECH, encroaches and infringes others’ RIGHT TO PRIVACY.

The media is violating the Right to Privacy every day. Like, after every unfortunate incident media reaches at victim’s home by completely neglecting their right of mourning in privacy to just show visuals of his/her devastated family. Recently same happened across the border in Sushant Singh Rajput’s case. Even one “Leading News Channel” approached Sushant’s father just within two hours, He was not even able to cry but the cameraman was constantly showing his face. In the race of TRPs and “Breaking News”, Media seem to have forgotten that victims and victims’ families are humans and not just images on our screens. They also deserve respect and privacy to deal with their tragedies. From running Primetime shows on ”Someone’s” marriage or divorce to Publishing all the Private information of Pakistan’s First COVID-19 Patient from his Home address to University class Media is violating Privacy Rights.

And more recently after the unfortunate PIA PK-8303 plane crash, so many Conflicting Reports, News, Pictures, Videos, Audios even the most confidential Control tower conversations got on aired, List of passengers published, News channels showed the pictures of passengers and crew members. Even its basic Human decency to not Show or publish pictures of people’s dead bodies but yet all Media including Social Media do that every time.

These are just a few examples of the Media’s Sensationalism and violation of the RIGHT TO PRIVACY. However, the ‘Systematic Silencing’ of Media is not justified.

PEMRA is putting channels off-air with little or no notice just because they are showing both sides of the story. Even Cable operators get told to change the number the channels appears on, or just to shut them down completely. Pakistan ranks 142 out of 180 countries on the ‘Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index.

Free Media is the backbone of a democratic society which plays a vital role in informing citizens about public affairs and monitoring the actions of government at all levels. Therefore, it’s high time to elaborate Freedom of Speech in terms of Privacy rights, to set a delicate balance between a person’s right to privacy and someone else’s right to freedom of expression. As specified or unspecified quarters cannot misinterpret it in coming times.



Diary of a young lawyer...

I'm Abdul Qadeer, Student of Law by day and a writer by night. My talent is words. I am an aspiring writer with a huge passion for writing and researching.