Does the public have a right to know about a public figure’s private life?

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I. Introduction

Public figures are the people who are very popular in the society and are well-known for the duty they perform or the work they do for the community. These people are generally actors, artists, musicians, politicians, sportsmen among others. These people have themselves given an agreement to get clicked and be over the social media. They are being clicked for every single activity that they perform in their daily life, for example: going to a restraint or a gym or going to a friend’s house among others. And these actions are then published on the social media which result influences the larger audience and makes them curious to know about their lives which is beyond these cameras. The media makes it seem that these celebrities are responsible for all the information and actions of theirs that is published in the newspapers by media. Media plays a great role in influencing the audience about the celebrity’s actions by publishing and delivering the information in a twisted manner.

The public due to these actins generally believes that they have an absolute right to know about a public figure’s personal lives. They believe that they have the right to free speech and expression and can comment anything on a person’s life who is often seen in the media. This conventional belief of the audience results in no right to privacy for these celebrities. The advent of this digital era has resulted in this zero right to privacy that is why we as the citizens of this nation need to think about this norm again. There is no doubt to the fact it was from these celebrity’s agreement that they waived off a certain amount of their right to privacy by making appearances in the media and getting clicked very often but still they as citizens of the nation have their fundamental right of privacy which should not be entirely violated and infringed in any circumstance. Some actions of the media just appear as torture to the celebrities and their fundamental rights.[1]

II. Does the public have a right to know about a public figure’s private life?

This question of whether the public has a right to know about a public figure’s private life has been in debate for years as some philosophers and scholars believe that they themselves have the given the audience the permission to discuss and know about their private life, whereas there are others who believe that these celebrities are just like normal human beings who just have given a certain amount of right to the public to know all the information that is relevant to them, but people nowadays are so influenced by these celebrities and public figures that they wish to know about every detail of their life for example: who they are dating, who they are having lunch with or going out with among others. These are the questions that are not relevant to anyone and no one gets affected by these things but still, people are curious to know and thus it leads to infringement of their fundamental rights.

Celebrities just like ordinary human beings have a right to live a respectable life without their personal lives being exposed in the public. There should be a proper set of guidelines and framework that could help guide the audience and strict them to the information that is really relevant to the public. India should try to build a model like the Three Principle Model in the US that consists of three major elements. The first one being the relevance of private information to the public. The second one is that whether the said information has any role to impart knowledge to the audience and the third one is the proportionality rule. A model like this would help control the audience at a large level and prevent them to violate any fundamental right to these celebrities.[2]

There have been several arguments in against as well as in for, for this question. There has been a long debate to answer a question like this. Some of the major arguments in for of this notion are listed below. People generally argue that they have the right to know everything about the person who is in power over them and someone who is influencing their lives a lot. They argue that the salaries of these political leaders are being paid by their taxes thus they have a right to know and moreover all the decisions taken by these leaders directly influence and affect the lives of ordinary people. The next argument that people generally give is that it is extremely difficult to draw a line on topics of the personal and public matters. For example, a French minster hid the information about him being a cancer patient from the entire parliament and now, in this case, it is difficult to decide why it was hidden or whether it was for the public good or not. And the last and major argument that is presented by the public is that these public figures accepted this status knowing that at some point there will be attention brought to their personal lives and questions will be raised upon them. But there have been several scholars who have been against this notion too. They argue that despite becoming a celebrity they are humans and their personal lives should not be exposed like this in the public when that matter is completely irrelevant to the society. Another argument presented by them is that entering deep into the lives of celebrities would just disrupt the functioning of democracy. And moreover, no one has a spotless life if their life is exposed like this in the public it might have a bad influence on the younger generations. And the last agreement presented by these scholars is that the fact that their taxes are used to pay the salaries of political leaders, it does not provide them with absolute control over their personal lives. It does not provide them with the right to embarrass them and violate their fundamental rights.[3]

III. Conclusion

Public figures are the people who are very popular in the nation and are capable of influencing the lives of others. They themselves have provided the media with permission to click their pictures and publish information about them. By accepting the status of the public figure, they have waived off a certain part of their right to privacy but celebrities are no less than any ordinary human. Like every human, they live their life as they wish to so one being a responsible citizen should not scrutinize their lives that much and should respect the right to privacy of every citizen whether he is an ordinary man or a celebrity. One should just respect their lives and let them live their life as they desire too without the fear of getting exposed and scrutinized in the public.[4]