Secrets, Celebrity & Privacy

Silver lock and key
Key by Elston (CC by 2.0)

The paradox of privacy

When I was nine years old for Christmas I was given a diary with a lock and a key. As a child that was my definition of privacy and being grown up – being able to lock your secrets away and having control over when and how much information you revealed. Today it appears that the paradox is the wealthier and more famous that you are – the less privacy you have.

Stalking children, blinding camera flashes and helicopter chases

As evidence, these days online you can watch footage of: actor Blake Lively’s frustration with trying to protect her children from paparazzi stalking them  (YouTube 2021) or Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck nearly being blinded by paparazzi camera flashes causing them to almost get into the wrong car after leaving a restaurant (YouTube 2022)  or Chris Rock having to increase his security to deal with ‘a mob of photographers chasing him’ and helicopters following him from his hotel to the theatre weeks after being slapped by Will Smith at the Oscars (YouTube 2022).

Rock chicks                              Limelight paparazzi! By Eric / Kimber (CC BY 2.0)

Definition of celebrity

Celebrities in the 21st century attract a level of public interest that seems disproportionate to their achievements (Turner 2014, p. 3). Boorstin (cited in Turner p. 5) notes that celebrities fame is developed not by great achievements but rather by ensuring the persona they craft is unique from their competitors.

Privacy rights of celebrities?

Is reporting about celebrities and their activities in real time, on social media sites, fair and reasonable? Is there a line that is crossed when celebrities are surveilled and their privacy invaded? Perhaps celebrities should not have the same rights to privacy that regular citizens have?

Paparazzi in glasses Flikr 26 May 2022

Paparazzi by Omar Eduardo (CC BY-NC-2.0)

In a poll of classmates on Twitter (Shaw 2017) I asked: Do celebrities forfeit their right to privacy? Everyone who responded had an opinion.

Some may argue that celebrities are unique and forfeit their private citizen rights when they become a celebrity. They may reason that being a celebrity requires surveillance to create publicity – which is the bread and butter of their occupation. Further, they may note that celebrities are happy to be photographed and recorded for their own publicity purposes when it suits them. Yet, they are not so accommodating when they are not looking or feeling their best or are caught in a compromising position.

Are these arguments ethical?

A short overview of some of McFarland’s (2012, pp. 4-5). concerns about the ethics of privacy are outlined in the following YouTube video.

Are celebrities private citizens?

If celebrities are deemed to be private citizens how should their rights to privacy be protected? Gross (2017, p. 31). concludes that ‘The tension arises out of the juxtapositioning of a journalist’s right to freedom of expression and an individual’s expectation of privacy’. Determining responses to the privacy related questions that arise is a legal matter that is governed by privacy laws that vary widely from country to country.

In a 2017 Twitter poll of classmates, I asked who should determine the rights of celebrities? The results below may surprise you.

Australian law and privacy

In Australia, the law states that public figures do not forfeit their right to privacy. Campbell v MGN Ltd cited in the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s [ACMA] (2016) Privacy Guidelines for Broadcasters states:

Public figures such as politicians, celebrities, prominent sports and business people and those in public office do not forfeit their right to privacy in their personal lives. However, it is accepted that public figures will be open to a greater level of scrutiny of any matter that may affect the conduct of their public activities and duties. (ACMA 2016, p. 6).

Fascination with celebrities

nozomi 2 210212
Rihanna by Nozomi 2 210212 (CC BY 2.0)

Yet aside from various privacy laws, the broader question is why is the public interested in checking social media sites about celebrities and their children being stalked by paparazzi, mysterious girlfriends and house hunting? Maybe we are drawn to celebrities because we want to know every detail of their lives so that we can understand the phenomenon of celebrity – in the hope that some of their brilliance may rub off on us.

Reference List

Australian Communications and Media Authority’s (ACMA) 2017, Privacy guidelines for broadcasters, ACMA, retrieved 6 August 2017, <;.

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez nearly enter the wrong car after dinner at Nerano, live streaming video, YouTube, retrieved 26 May 2022, <;.

Blake Lively accuses paparazzi of stalking her kids, live streaming video, YouTube, retrieved 18 July 2021, <;.

Eduardo, O 2008, Paparazzi, photograph, retrieved 26 May 2022, <>.

Elston2005, Key, photographretrieved 13 August 2017,<;.

Eric / Kimber, 2007, Limelight paparazzi, photograph, retrieved 26 May 2022, <>.

Gross, B 2017, ‘Harvesting social media for journalistic purposes in the UK: The balance between privacy rights and freedom of expression’, in WJ Schünemann & MO Baumann (eds), Privacy, Data Protection and Cybersecurity in Europe, Springer International Publishing, pp. 31–42.

How Chris Rock is handling attention after Oscars slap live streaming video, YouTube, retrieved 26 May 2022, <>.

Kessler, J 2010,  Fireworks, photograph, retrieved 13 August 2017, <;.

McFarland, M 2012, ‘Why we care about privacy’ retrieved 6 August 2017,                            <>.

Nozomi, 2012, ‘Rihanna’ retrieved 26 May 2022, <>.

Turner, G 2016, Understanding celebrity, Sage Publications, London, <;.


  1. Wonderful piece of writing and really well researched, shows through your twitter tolls and referencing. I wasn’t aware that, you know there were government written laws and rights for celebrity or public figures in general. I’m from India and the government system works different out there, I was curious to check back what the law was like for celebrities back there after you highlighted the Australian law. Thanks for that information and sparking my thoughts up. Looking forward to your next blog.


    • Hi Justine
      Many thanks for your positive blog review. I’m really glad you liked it and that you learned something from it. I read you latest blog earlier today. Well done very clever title and opening para I’ll return the favour and review your blog tomorrow.

      Kind regards Maria


  2. Great insights into the law regarding privacy. It truely heads into a grey line between
    a) privacy though still requiring publicity for social figures and
    b) publicity in private time.
    It is important and relevant to acknowledge the publics appetite for ‘news’ of public figures. Excellent ways in which you raise these topics. I enjoy your style.


  3. Thanks for your feedback Laughtercup

    You are correct the line between public and private time becomes very blurry and therefore difficult to manage –
    especially for public figures who may feel that they are on call 24/7. Glad you enjoy my style. Stay tuned for my next blog.

    Cheers Maria


  4. Hi, Maria,

    I am quite interested in celebrities’ (privacy) life too, this title really draws my attention, I like the fact that you put the related Australian privacy law for those celebrities in your blog.
    I enjoy the subheading you made for this blog too, it really make me easy to read.
    I have a little suggestion for the cc license of the image in this blog, you can link the creative commons page on a new page as I tried on your picture that it directly cover this blog page, next time, when you insert link for cc license you can click the small button “Open link in a new window/tab”, in this case, the cc license page/image flicker page won’t cover your blog page.

    Really looking forward reading your next blog!




    • Thanks for taking the time to review my blog Huan.
      I’m glad that you liked it. I think that word ‘secrets’will always get people’s attention – it is enticing because it is the unknown.
      I’m mad with myself that I didn’t make the CC reference open in a new page as that was my intention – I must have missed it. I’ll have to pay more attention next time. Let’s hope my next blog is an improvement, it will be about my experience booking travel based on social media reviews. Have great day Cheers Maria


  5. Hi Maria,

    This was an interesting read. Great use of media, tweets and images, particularly the lock & key header picture as this was so apt and supported the theme. Starting with a personal anecdote is great, engaging and relatable.

    It would improve readability to do another proofread (there were a few misplaced question-marks, for example). Also, I suggest checking the in-text referencing specifics; for instance, a full-stop after the bracket is only needed at the end of the sentence.

    Your video was a great addition, a clever use of media and nicely incorporated. Finally, I was impressed with how you indicated your key discussion point early, being the paradox that surrounds celebrity privacy.

    Thank you for sharing.



    • Thanks so much for your very supportive review AJ
      I agree, I do need to do more work on my in-text citations. I always find referencing full of more questions than I have answers for. I really liked the key and lock pic in the blog’s header and am glad you thought it fitted with the blog. Your feedback on the structure of the blog was helpful too. You are the first to provide feedback on my inclusion of the YouTube in the blog and I value that.
      Many thanks Maria


      • Hi Maria,

        Referencing is fiddly to get right but there are detailed examples that cover almost every contingency via the Deakin Sync site and I use these to check what I’ve done, flicking back and forth to check All the commas and full-stops are in the right place. I never trust myself to remember from one assignment to the next!



  6. Hi Maria,

    This is a topic that has always fascinated me, and people tend to look at it as a double edged sword. You make more money than just about any other profession in the world and can do anything you want, except take a walk out in public.

    Personally, I have no desire to be famous, EVER.

    I like the way you looked at both the paparazzi, who are basically doing their job, and the interest the public have in these people.

    One high profile case you could have mentioned was Princess Diana. The anniversary of her death has been in the media lately, and the swarm of photographers and reporters that were chasing her before the car crash is simply frightening!

    Great work!



    • Hi Paul
      Thanks for your review. I’m in agreement I don’t want to be famous EVER either – seems like a bad deal all that fame but no personal freedom.You’re right I could have mentioned Princess Di but I think to do that situation justice a whole blog would need to be dedicated to it. Also there are so many other celebrities who have suffered as a result of paparazzi intrusion. Did you know that Michael J Fox (Back to Future) was hounded so much by a particular member of the paparazzi that the photographer turned up at his Father’s funeral and pretended to be a mourner – just so he could take photos of Michael J Fox?
      If you get a chance it would be great if you could review my next blog to – it’s on travel(not published yet).
      Cheers Maria


      • Hi Maria,

        I didn’t know the Michael J Fox story. I knew there was an intrusive photographer at the funeral of the mother of Tim & Neil Finn. A photo of the brothers as pallbearers caused an uproar at the time, as no paparazzi were supposed to be anywhere near the funeral.

        I’ll definitely give it a look. I have to publish my second one this week as well!




      • Hi Paul thanks for your comment
        It just goes to show how low the paparazzi will stoop and how intrusive they are
        Lucky we both don’t have that problem!
        Cheers Maria


  7. Hey Maria,

    First things first, boy am I glad NOT to be a celebrity. The points you made and the invasion of privacy we witness in a celebrity’s life is NOT something I would like to experience. Your content was clearly very well researched. The twitter polls added a nice touch to it too.

    Just wanted to point out your reference list, it is not well edited. There was a tab (few spaces) in one of the reference like it was APA style instead of Harvard and some others had a semi colon instead of a closing bracket (>) at the end of the links.

    I really love your style of writing and really thank you for making it clear that NOT being a celebrity has its perks too.



    • Thanks for your comments Nikhil
      Glad you liked the content I’m glad that I’m not a celebrity either what a hassle! I’m glad that you liked the mixed media in the blog. I think it adds extra interest and potentially extends the blog’s content. I’ll have to do more work on my referencing. Cheers Maria


  8. Hi Maria
    It was a treat to read your blog.You have great writing skills.You have presented your viewpoints with the support of embedded twitter polls and pictures.The video which you have attached to this blog is informative.References are done correctly in Harvard style.The heading of your blog is interesting and grabs readers attention.Thank you for sharing the information about the privacy laws for celebrities in Australia.I believe that as they are also citizens they should also have the right to privacy.Media and fans are always trying to sneak in their personal lives which is not good to a certain extent.I was happy to read your blog as it is immensely informative and wonderful.
    Waiting for your next blog!



    • Hi Parul

      So sorry that I couldn’t approve your blog before now but I see you sent it early this morning and I’ve only just logged onto my blog site now. Thank you for making the time to review my blog. Your comments were sweet and supportive. I’m glad you like my writing skills. It’s fun to be able to embed media into your blog and it also adds valuable content that the reader can chose to review further or not – what do you think?
      Regarding privacy I think that a lot of celebrities don’t know how precious it is until it’s too late and they don’t have it anymore.
      Keep writing I look forward to reading your blog.
      Kind regards Maria


  9. Hi Maria,
    This was a very interesting read. Your blog explores the legal landscape surrounding celebrity, privacy and the media. In today’s Australia law, has not balanced celebrities’ legal expectations of informational and seclusional privacy against the press and the media’s rights to inform and publish.

    Maybe being famous means a lot of attention, but publics should to stop following them around, especially when they are not in the public eye. Why should they lost their privacy because of being famous? That is unfair for them, they are humans too.

    Your viewpoints have been support of the embedded pictures, twitters, and video. The subheading you used for this blog, it’s makes blog easy to read. Moreover, you did lots of reference which is very great, it gives great support to your topic.


    • Thanks for reading my blog Xiliu Yan.

      In retrospect it was a fun blog to write as the topic raises many conflicting philosophical arguments involving individual rights, human rights generally, the rights of the general public to access an Individual’s personal information and the institutions and organisations that make a profit from reporting on celebrities.

      Perhaps another issue is why privacy laws differ so greatly between countries? I encourage you to read my next blog on Trip Advisor and using social media reviews to inform accommodation bookings.

      Kind regards Maria


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s