If I were to publish an email conversation that I have with a private individual then in many countries that could be found to be an invasion of privacy (it is a conversation that the other could expect to be private and as such I would require their consent to publish it). How does this change when dealing with a publicly elected official?

Specifically, if I email an elected politician can I publish my email and their response without their permission?

Jurisdiction is Australia, but I'm interested in other country's laws as well (I won't accept something that isn't specific to Australia but will upvote them, thus I have delibrately avoided tagging this question as specific to Australia - please don't add it!).


Yes you can do this. Here are the ways you can be sued/prosecuted:

  • if you are a government employee or contractor this is a breach of the duty you owe your employer
  • if you are a party to a NDA, this is a breach of contract
  • if the emails contain official secrets, publishing them is a crime
  • if the emails contain commercially sensitive information (e.g. about government tenders) you can be sued by anyone who suffers loss as a result of the disclosure
  • if your email defames the politician, you can be sued if you publish
  • if any of the emails defame a third party, you can be sued
  • if the emails were exchanged such that there was a reasonable expectation of confidentiality (e.g. It says so in the email) you can be sued for breach of confidence.
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