The Italian Almanac

beauty and the car

No Privacy in Cars

Conversations in motor vehicles are not covered by Italy's privacy laws, the country's highest appeals court said, giving private eyes the green light to snoop on spouses who err in cars. The verdict, which sets a precedent for all future sentences, came in a case in which 22 private investigators were accused of planting bugs in or under cars to get proof of infidelity.

The high court upheld an acquittal of the sleuths issued in Brescia last June. ''There is no law protecting the privacy of people face to face in a private car on a public road,'' said the Cassation judges, who recalled that, on the other hand, phone and e-mail communications were covered by privacy laws. Privacy laws ban photographers from taking sneak pictures in private homes but ''a vehicle on a public road has never been considered a private dwelling,'' they added.