The Press and Anonymity

Dafydd Vaughan on 6 August 2006

I don’t normally comment on stuff like this, but in this case I am going to make an exception.  The question I have been contemplating is when does the press loose the right to research a person’s identity?

This weekend I have been made aware that a national newspaper “the Sunday Times” has potentially destroyed someone’s career and made her life very embarrassing and difficult.

This particular woman goes by the name of Abby Lee.  Abby describes herself as a sex fiend – and two years ago set up a blog “A Girl with a One Track Mind” describing her feelings towards sex and her sexual exploits.  This blog has included comments about people she works with (identities withheld), friends and people she has met.  The main thing about this blog though has been that Abby has remained completely anonymous – Abby is of course, not her real name.  Those who read her blog regularly have learnt that she is 30ish, lives in London and works in the mainly male dominated film industry.  As you can understand, should her real identity become public knowledge and her friends/family/ work mates become aware of her comments, life could become very difficult for her.

Now I am going to take a step back for a minute.  Some of you may be wondering why I am kicking up a fuss about a sex blogger.  Ok, sex blogs aren’t for everyone – some people get off on them, some find them outrageous and disgusting and others don’t particularly care – myself included.  I am primarily using this as an example as this has occurred in the past few days.

Recently, Abby been approached by a publisher and has written and distributed a book based on her blog.  The book, also under the name Abby Lee, was released this week and has been reviewed by several big national newspapers.  Throughout the process, they have kept her identity secret – as per her express wishes.  However, today, the Sunday Times has published her name, where she lives, what her job is, who she has worked with and the details of her parents and other family members.

Now my immediate question is WHY?  What interest does it serve to publish these details apart from make her life difficult.  On Monday she is going to have to go into work and face loads of typical males who potentially know about her sex life!  What is the bloody point?  She has made it perfectly clear that making her identity known would make life difficult, yet the paper still went ahead and published the details.

Anyway I am going to leave this post with my original question, when does the press looses the right to research and publish a person’s identity?  I sincerely hope that Abby gets compensation from the Sunday Times for any trouble that they have caused her.

Any views stated here are my own and not those of my employer unless otherwise stated.