Violation of privacy in Israel – can you file a lawsuit?

Violation of privacy

Violation of privacy could lead to a devastating result for the victim. In recent years in particular, many cases in which men distribute nude photos of women without their permission have made headlines in the media. This example and many other cases can lead to high financial compensation for the victim. All those victims need to do is to familiarize themselves with the provisions of the Privacy Protection Law, 1981 and consult with the civil lawyer dealing with violation of privacy before filing a claim.

In many cases, a claim for violation of privacy on the Internet or in the "real world" is accompanied by claims from the field of defamation, and as far as the issue of distributing nude photos is concerned, also claims from the field of sexual harassment. When privacy is violated, it is important to immediately contact a privacy protection lawyer .

What is an invasion of privacy?

Violation of privacy (and it doesn't matter if it is the "real world" or the Internet) is defined in the Privacy Protection Law as follows:

Violation of a person's privacy is one of these:

(1)spying or tracking a person, which may harass him, or other harassment;

(2)eavesdropping prohibited by law;

(3)photographing a person while in the individual's possession;

(4)Publishing a person's photograph in public under circumstances where the publication may humiliate or humiliate him;

(4a)Publishing a photograph of a victim in public that was taken at the time of the injury or close to it in a way that he can be identified and in circumstances where the publication may cause him embarrassment, with the exception of publishing a photograph without a delay between the moment of the photograph and the moment of the actual transmission that does not exceed what is reasonable under those circumstances;For this matter, "injured" – a person who suffered a physical or mental injury due to a sudden event and whose injury is visible to the eye;

(5)Copying the content of a letter or other writing that is not intended for publication, or using its content, without permission from the recipient or the writer, and all if the writing is not of historical value and fifteen years have not passed since it was written;For this purpose, "writing" – including an electronic message as defined in the Electronic Signature Law, 2001;

(6)Using a person's name, nickname, image or voice for profit;

(7)Violation of a duty of confidentiality established by law regarding a person's private affairs;

(8)Violation of a duty of confidentiality regarding a person's private affairs, stipulated in an express or implied agreement;

(9)Using information about a person's private affairs or giving it to another, other than the purpose for which it was given;

(10)The publication or delivery of a thing obtained in a way that violates privacy according to paragraphs (1) to (7) or (9);

(11)The publication of matter concerning the modesty of a person's personal life, including his sexual past, or his state of health, or his behavior under the individual's permission.

A person who is harmed by one of these situations is entitled to receive financial compensation for the harm he experienced to their privacy.

Attorney Eddie Blitstein
Privacy protection lawyer Eddie Blitshtein explains about violation of privacy

What is the amount of financial compensation that can be received following a violation of privacy?

Section 29a of the Privacy Protection Law determines the financial compensation that can be demanded after a violation of privacy:

(a)If a person is convicted of an offense according to section 5, the court may order him to pay the victim compensation not exceeding NIS 50,000, without proof of damage;Liability for compensation according to this subsection is like a judgment of the same court given in a civil action of the entitled person against the debtor therein.(b)(1) In a trial due to a civil wrong according to section 4, the court may compel the defendant to pay the victim compensation not exceeding NIS 50,000, without proof of damage;

(2) In a trial as stated in paragraph (1) where it is proven that the violation of privacy was done with intent to harm, the court may oblige the defendant to pay the victim compensation that does not exceed double the amount stated in that paragraph, without proof of damage.

(c) No person shall receive compensation without proof of damage according to this section, due to the same violation of privacy, more than once.

(d) The amounts mentioned in this section will be updated on the 16th of each month, according to the rate of change in the new index compared to the basic index;for this matter –

"Index" – the consumer price index published by the Central Bureau of Statistics;

"The new index" – the index of the month preceding the update month;

"The basic index" – index for the month of May 2007.

That is, for any case of violation of privacy, the victim is entitled to demand from the court to receive financial compensation in the amount of NIS 50,000. At the same time, section 29a(d) states that the amount of compensation must be linked to the index for the month of May 2007. What this means is that as of today the amount of compensation The money that can be demanded for violation of privacy is more than NIS 75,000 for each case .

Section 29a(b)(2) states that if a violation of privacy was committed with the intent to harm , then the amount of compensation is doubled and currently stands at just over NIS 150,000 for each case.

Section 29a(c) states that compensation cannot be claimed for the same violation of privacy without proof of damage more than once. What this means is that if the same nude photo was published, for example, on several different occasions, the victim will be able to receive financial compensation without proof of damage only once. On the other hand, if different nude photos were published, on different occasions (each time a different photo), the victim could demand compensation without proof of damage according to the number of photos published on different occasions.

Another important thing that you should pay attention to is that the compensation under the Privacy Protection Law is compensation without proof of damage , but if you have suffered damages that you can prove, there is no obstacle to suing them with the same financial claim together with the demand for compensation without proof of damage.

The amount of compensation that the courts actually decide for violation of privacy

The mere fact that compensation can be claimed without proof of damage in an amount that can reach more than 75,000 NIS for each violation (or more than 150,000 NIS if it is an intent to harm) does not mean that the court will necessarily award the maximum compensation in your favor.

When ruling on the amount of compensation after a violation of privacy, the court examines each case on its merits. For example; Violation of privacy on the Internet may lead to higher financial compensation compared to violation of privacy in front of one more person, because more people were exposed to the offensive information, and it can certainly be argued that the victim's injury in this case is greater.

Also, it is important to understand that there is a big difference between the amount of compensation that can be received for violation of privacy in the Small Claims Court and the amount of compensation for violation of privacy in the Magistrate's Court . In most cases, the compensation awarded in the Magistrate's Court will be much higher.

Invasion of privacy
Violation of privacy can also be done through surveillance with security cameras

Tel Aviv 55994-04-19 Ya'akov Marom v. Benjamin Rosenthal (judgment dated February 3, 2021) – in this case the bridge violated the duty of confidentiality. The court ruled as follows:

From the general to the specific: In our case, regarding the breach of confidentiality applicable to the aforementioned mediation process by the mediator, my conclusion is that the circumstances of the breach of confidentiality, through the provision of an affidavit by the mediator, which is referred to the family court that hears the dispute between the plaintiff and his ex-wife, to which he attached an exchange of correspondence with the plaintiff – The party to the mediation before me, certainly indicates an intention to harm the plaintiff in his legal conduct with his ex-wife.

In this case, there is room, within the exercise of the discretion given to the court, to refer to the statutory compensation according to the Privacy Protection Law and to double the statutory compensation under this law due to the "intent to harm" that was in the violation of the duty of confidentiality, a conclusion I reached as I reasoned above.

As for compensation in the case of "intent to harm" Article 29a(b)(2) of the Privacy Protection Law (emphasis mine – K.L.) states – "In a trial as stated in paragraph (1) where it is proven that the violation of privacy was done with intent to harm,thecourtmay obligate the defendant to pay the victim compensation that will not exceed double the amount stated in that paragraph, without proof of damage."

The fact that the defendant acted knowingly and deliberately when he signed an affidavit and attached to it messages he received from the plaintiff as part of the mediation process indicates bad faith conduct, leads to the conclusion that he should be ordered to pay increased compensation.The disclosure of the secrecy in which I was present was carried out deliberately.The circumstances definitely point to a kind of "mental foundation" of the perpetrator of the wrongdoing.

In this case, the court awarded monetary compensation for violation of privacy in the amount of 60,000 NIS, and another 12,000 NIS for attorney's fees .

Tel Aviv 15021-03-17 Alumani v. Pelonit (judgment dated 12.4.2020) – in this case a letter containing personal content was published. The court ruled as follows:

11.3.The circumstances of the publication should not be ignored.The plaintiff even reiterated that the defendant had a financial interest in helping his ex-wife, so that her brother would refer more patients to her.Even without ruling on this claim, the defendant failed when she signed as a psychologist, when she issued the letter while knowing that this was prohibited and when she committed a wrong against the plaintiff, as has been extensively explained above.The plaintiff petitions to double the statutory compensation due to the "intent to harm" that was in the publication.

As for compensation in the case of "intent to harm", Section 29a(b)(2) of the Privacy Protection Law states as follows (emphasis not in the original) – "In a trial as stated in paragraph (1) where it is proven that the violation of privacy was done with the intent to harm,thecourt may compel the defendant to pay The victim will receive compensation that will not exceed double the amount stated in that paragraph, without proof of damage.

The fact that the defendant acted knowingly and issued the letter in bad faith means that increased compensation must be imposed.Acting in bad faith and even knowingly leads to the fact that there is no defense against the wrongdoing, but nevertheless – not every act in bad faith and knowingly will be considered an action "with intent to harm".If it is said that any action in bad faith and knowingly is an action "with the intent to harm" – then we are forced to say that any wrongdoing that has no defense is a wrongdoing that is done "with the intent to harm".

But this is not the case.The publication itself was done with intent, and this can be called a sort of "mental basis" of the perpetrator of the wrongdoing.But intention is not enough to carry out the publication – rather, there is a need for a deliberate intention to harm the plaintiff, this is the same deliberate "malice" that the plaintiff wants to attribute to the defendant.A distinction must be made between the intention to commit a wrongdoing, that is, it was not done unintentionally, and the intention to harm…

In this case, the court awarded the plaintiff financial compensation in the amount of 50,000 NIS and another 19,000 NIS for attorney's fees.

Tel Aviv 8419-03-15 Yosef (Yossi) Mizrahi v. Walla! Communications Ltd. et al (verdict dated September 13, 2018) – in this case a revealing close-up photo of the plaintiff was published. The court ruled as follows:

Defendant 1 will pay the plaintiff for the publication of the article and the photos in the various media compensation in the maximum amount set by law for invasion of privacy – NIS 59,708 as well as compensation in the maximum amount set by law for defamation – NIS 69,125.Under the circumstances of the matter, I did not find it appropriate to obligate the 1st defendant to double compensation in the absence of proof of intent to harm the plaintiff.

Although according to the ruling, in some cases intent to harm can be learned from the content of the publication itself, but in our case I was under the impression that although this is a borderline case, the content alone does not teach about intent to harm the plaintiff.Due to the negligence of the 1st defendant who encouraged the publication of offensive comments about the plaintiff and his appearance and did not remove these comments immediately, and based on the plaintiff's testimony regarding the mental anguish caused to him as a result – I order the 1st defendant to pay the plaintiff an additional sum of NIS 30,000. 

Defendant 2 will pay the plaintiff compensation without proof of damage for taking the photos in the maximum amount set by law – 59,708 NIS and will also pay the plaintiff additional compensation in the amount of 10,000 NIS for publishing the photos on his business Facebook page, and this, among other things, in the absence of claims and evidence regarding the extent of exposure of Internet surfers to this page.

In the circumstances of the case, I did not find it appropriate to oblige defendant 2 with double compensation, since it is not disputed that defendant 2 did not know the plaintiff personally at all, it was not proven that he had any motive to harm the plaintiff, and it was not proven that he took and published the photos with the intention of harming the plaintiff. 

The court awarded a total compensation of approximately 230,000 NIS and another 21,000 NIS for legal expenses and attorney's fees.

Are you considering filing a lawsuit for violation of privacy "in the real world" or a lawsuit for violation of privacy on the Internet? You are invited to contact a civil lawyer .

Attorney Eddie Blitstein
Do you need legal assistance regarding a violation of privacy? Contact attorney Eddie Blitshtein

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Attorney Eddie Blitshtein

Attorney Eddie Blitshtein is engaged in representing the interests of plaintiffs and defendants in complex court proceedings over a decade.

Attorney Eddie Blitshtein has vast experience and proven success in courts.

You can read multiple recommendations from previous clients and publications in the Israeli media about the cases we handled at the bottom of the page.

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