Fri | Feb 28, 2020

Hello Mi Neighbour | Invading one's privacy

Published:Wednesday | January 16, 2019 | 12:00 AM

Hello, mi neighbour! 'Mine yuh own business' is a popular Jamaican caution against the invasion of one's privacy: the unjustifiable intrusion into the personal life of another. This may include workplace monitoring, peeking through a neighbour's windows, taking pictures without per-mission, eavesdropping, and the dissemination of private information, and may be punishable by law.

Citizens who believe that their privacy has been invaded may seek legal compensation for the emotional and mental distress, as well as any financial or reputational harm suffered as a result. Of note, in most instances, celebrities and public officials, whose activities are always newsworthy, have little or no protection against privacy invasion.




The privilege of privacy gives adults the right to marry whoever is qualified and willing to reciprocate their desires. The number of children they choose to have is no business of their neighbours. Correct me if I'm wrong. Depending on his physical capabilities, the privilege of privacy allows a male to father a dozen children with a dozen consenting females without fear of prosecution. He must recognise, however, that such abuse of privacy can lead to complications too much for him to handle.

Is invasion of one's privacy ever justified? Where the abuse of privacy has the potential to save a life, it may be time for such privacy to be invaded by understanding, caring neighbours. Every day, there are instances in which couples bring lethal harm to each other after a period of 'bad living'. Before destruction struck, neighbours heard frequent quarrels, but because it was safe to 'keep out of people business' and 'cockroach nuh business inna foul fight' no one intervened.

Yes, it is important to stay out of people's business, but to what extent? A line must be drawn somewhere! We are our brother's keeper! Building close relationships with everyone in the community is critical to everyone's well-being. These relationships lead to the narrowing of privacy gaps, thus making room for community support, especially where domestic matters can lead to loss of life, limb, income and property.

While we vouch for the privilege of privacy, safety for all must always be a priority. Our neighbours have no right to peep into our pots, but if the pot is burning without our knowledge, it's a different kettle of fish. If one sees danger and does not warn the endangered, he/she is guilty of cruelty and the breaking of the golden rule - love your neighbour as yourself, and to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Now for a thought: By making our neighbours' private affairs more 'noseworthy' in a positive context, we can make their public affairs less newsworthy in a negative context.

And by the way, to display behaviours reserved for private spaces in the public domain is an insult to your neighbour and can be classified as invasion of privacy. Let's help one another, including those listed below.




- Timothy, St Ann, caring for sick mother but has no money. Asking for a second-hand lawnmower to help generate an income.

To help, please call Silton Townsend at 876-334-8165, 876-884-3866, or deposit to acct #351 044 276 (NCB). Alternatively, send donations to HELLO NEIGHBOUR C/o 53 Half-Way Tree Road, Kingston 10. Paypal/credit card email: Contact email: Visit Mr Townsend exclusively manages the collections and distributions mentioned in this column and is neither an employee nor agent of The Gleaner.