Just about everyone has gone on a rant about another person. We get upset, lose our tempers, and the blabbering begins. It turns out that this is no longer just an annoying habit.
The Superior Court in Ontario has ruled that a new tort is now in effect, referred to as “public disclosure of private facts”. This sort of tort – or civil wrongdoing – has been around for ages in regards to business. Many companies and government agencies require that their employees sign non-disclosure agreements.
However, this kind of breach has never before applied to personal situations.
It isn’t as simple as suing someone in civil court because they said something rude about you on Twitter. There are a few requirements that need to be met before a person can pursue a case.
For one, the information can’t already be in the public domain. So if you post pictures of yourself on Facebook doing a keg stand, you’ve put it out there yourself and it isn’t a tort for your frenemy to share it. Also, it needs to be of a private nature.
Secondly, the info must have been shared with the intention that it would be kept secret. When someone says “keep this to yourself”, they mean it.
Lastly, there must be some sort of harm done to the person if the info about them were to be shared with the public, whether that harm is emotional or financial. Telling all of Instagram that your co-worker is an alcoholic, that your neighbor is having an affair, or sharing naked pictures of an ex all cause harm.
So before you share secrets that you’ve been told (or overheard) consider the consequences.