Millions of people electronically transmit, enter, and store confidential information on computers, smartphones, tablets, and other devices daily. At a minimum, most use measures such as passwords and lock screens to protect their information. While these methods can be helpful, it’s essential to be as proactive as possible when protecting privacy online.
Protecting Privacy Online
Over the past ten years, major data and password breaches have been reported at well-known companies such as Target, Home Depot, Sony, Facebook, eBay, Yahoo, and Equifax, as well as others. These events serve as reminders that personal information can always be subject to a data breach. While you may not be able to anticipate these types of events, there are steps you can take to safeguard your private information during daily use.
Here are some actions you can take to protect your privacy online:
- Password Management—If you have online accounts, it’s always possible that your information may be compromised. One way to protect against password-related privacy breaches is by using a password manager to create complex passwords for your online accounts.
- Change Your Passwords—You can also make it a practice to change your passwords frequently and make certain that you are using unpredictable combinations of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and phrases.
- Create Additional Passwords—For computer files, you can help protect your privacy by adding secondary password protection for groups of data or individual files.
- Two-Step Authentication—Using two-step authentication whenever possible can be an important way to protect your privacy online. This involves entering a password and an additional code or number that is transmitted to your phone or email to gain entry to your private accounts.
- Browser Protection—Another way to protect your privacy online is by taking steps to safeguard your browsing history and personal content. For example, you can keep this information from being accessed by outside entities by installing a browser extension that blocks ads and data collection.
- Using Anti-Virus Software and Protecting Private Information—Anti-virus software is also vital to protecting your technology from being hacked, hijacked, or infected with malware. In addition, you should be wary of any texts, calls, or emails seeking password-protected access to your private content.
- Social Media Practices—Social media has made it easier than ever for users to share personal information. Although posted content may be intended for friends and loved ones, it can also be accessed by others who are looking to misuse this data. Therefore, you may want to consider being cautious with sharing personal information online and ensuring your social media security settings are as restrictive as possible. In addition, before posting content on external websites, you should be mindful of who can access these images and how they may be used.
Deliberate Misuse and Harm
Sometimes, personal data can be obtained by people who know the victim or intend to harm them. For example, this may occur when someone obtains and shares intimate images, films, or photographs of someone without their consent or knowledge. This type of privacy violation can result in the victim suffering severe emotional injury and other related damages. In such a circumstance, the victim may have a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
Under New York law, a cause of action alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress has four elements: (i) extreme and outrageous conduct; (ii) intent to cause or disregard of a substantial probability of causing severe emotional distress; (iii) a causal connection between the conduct and injury; and (iv) severe emotional distress.
Someone who has suffered severe emotional injury because they had their personal information or images taken and used by another with the intent to harm the victim may have grounds to sue the responsible party on this ground.
New York Civil Rights Law §§ 50 and 51
If the party who used private content did so for advertising or trade and without the subject’s permission, there may also be a cause of action under New York Civil Rights Law §§ 50 and 51.
To establish a claim under Civil Rights Law §§ 50 and 51, a plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant used the plaintiff’s name, portrait, picture, or voice in the State of New York for purposes of advertising or trade without the plaintiff’s written permission. Civil Rights Law § 51 authorizes a civil action for injunctive relief and damages, including exemplary damages, if a defendant acts knowingly in violation of that protection. These claims are typically limited to nonconsensual commercial appropriations of a living person’s name, portrait, or picture.
In 2010, rap singer “50 Cent” was sued for obtaining and using a private intimate recording without the consent or knowledge of a woman in the video. The woman filed a cause of action claiming that the defendant used her name and/or picture under New York civil rights law and that she suffered intentional infliction of emotional distress. The plaintiff ultimately obtained a $7 million compensatory and punitive damages judgment in 2015.
Privacy violations can be devastating to the victim and their loved ones. If you or someone you care about has had their privacy violated, you may have a claim for damages. Contact an experienced New York personal injury attorney today to schedule an appointment to review your case.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one have been injured due to a privacy violation, you should schedule a free consultation with the experienced attorneys at Bonina & Bonina, P.C. We believe everyone’s privacy should be protected and are here to help. Call us at 1888-MEDLAW1 or contact us online for a free consultation.