More Troubling Proposed Anti-Social Networking Laws: CA Wants Photo Removal Law

from the get-over-it dept

It's amazing what sort of laws politicians will come up with when they overreact to something that new technology allows, without bothering to understand the issue. It appears some California state politicians are upset about the fact that people are uploading photos and videos to social networking sites, and those photos may reveal something the subject of the photo wouldn't like. So, they want to require any site that allows uploads of images or videos to be required to take down that content on request of a subject in that content. Yes, even if the photo or video were taken in public.

In looking over text of the bill (warning: pdf), it looks like the original idea was worse: that social networking sites would be required to prevent anyone from copying an image off of a website. It looks like someone explained to the bill's sponsor how that's impossible. However, even though the bill claims that it's aimed at photos of people who had an expectation of privacy, that doesn't appear to be anywhere in the actual text. Instead, sites would be required to take down content on the request of anyone in the image. Sites would also be responsible for verifying that the takedown request came from the person actually in the photo, though there's no mechanism to determine how. It's also not clear how to deal with photos that involve multiple people.

But, honestly, what's most unclear... is why such a law is needed in the first place? It seems like a major hassle for no good reason whatsoever -- especially in an era where taking photos and sharing them has become the norm for many people.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Tgeigs, May 6th, 2009 @ 9:45am

    I can just about gurantee that layered here somewhere is the intent to prevent the sharing/uploading of public officials and law enforcement behaving in a way they would rather not be known.

     

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  2.  
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    Bettawrekonize, May 6th, 2009 @ 9:46am

    What about cases like this
    http://www.conspiracycafe.net/forum/index.php?showtopic=22447

    Where people have filmed cops doing things that maybe wrong? That should be displayed for everyone to see. But I bet some people here would say, "yeah, but those videos came from conspiracy websites so their content must be false." We should be VERY careful about making sure that we CAN take videos of law enforcement when they are on duty (or any government official on duty).

     

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  3.  
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    yozoo, May 6th, 2009 @ 9:51am

    Im confused

    Doesnt the photographer "own" the image (or images in the case of video)? Dont we have like a hundred and twenty some years worth of legal precedent on this already?

     

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  4.  
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    RD, May 6th, 2009 @ 9:55am

    Also

    Why do clueless politicians insist on proposing laws that are impossible? I see no mechanism in place (and indeed, one is not possible in practical terms) that would verify that the person claiming to be in the pic to be removed was, in fact, them. If this ridiculous law passes, how many instances of false takedowns by people who are not who they claim do you think will happen? But politicians think, its the internet, so a) its evil, b) something needs to be done about it! and c) a magic wand exists that you can just wave and solve these technical problems. Its like when they proposed to "just block" all child porn sites, as if its that easy, or even possible, to wave your magic thingamajig and selectively block ONLY the bad parts of a particular topic.

     

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  5.  
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    Bettawrekonize, May 6th, 2009 @ 9:57am

    All of that is thrown out the window if there is a good chance that someone could publicly broadcast a law enforcer breaking the law (because usually mainstream media just censors this stuff but with youtube they have to find other ways of censoring it). Law enforcers are supposed to uphold the law, it's worse for them to break laws than for anyone else (since they should set good examples). Unfortunately, they break laws just like anyone else and they don't want to get caught. A lot of things get censored from mainstream media and now people are finding the truth from youtube. So now they have to figure out how to censor it from youtube.

     

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  6.  
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    Tgeigs, May 6th, 2009 @ 10:06am

    Re: Also

    It's people waving their thingamajigs at child porn that is the problem to begin with :)

     

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  7.  
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    Joe, May 6th, 2009 @ 10:17am

    Warning

    I love the techdirt blog but what's the deal with "warning PDF".
    I see that all the time here. As if PDFs are some crazy format that no uses???

    I'm just sayin...

     

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  8.  
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    Jeremy, May 6th, 2009 @ 10:25am

    Re: Warning

    Joe, its probably that some people don't want to go through the hassle of downloading the pdf which would take more time than if it was just on another website. Thats my guess at least.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2009 @ 10:27am

    Just to make you aware that it isn't linked out to another site, it's linked out to a PDF document (some computers have difficulty loading these, or load them very slow) Just a friendly reminder I believe (@ Joe)

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2009 @ 10:30am

    I'm sure this was in no way influenced by some senator's daughter being caught mid-way through politically-damaging acts at college, and having the proof of said act posted on Facebook...

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2009 @ 10:35am

    Re:

    It's worse than just "they should set a good example." They are the enforces of the law. Who do you call when the enforcer violates the law? Who watches the watchers? It's not just about how cops should be "better people," it's that they have the ability to grossly abuse their power and we must be able to protect ourselves from that. A good way of protecting ourselves is making it hurt a lot when they're caught, which is why they have stiffer penalties (well, in theory...).

     

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  12.  
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    Mike P., May 6th, 2009 @ 10:36am

    I ran into this problem a year ago actually. I took pictures of a Disneyland Parade and posted them on my website that has a hotlink blocker and places a watermark on the image. I ended up getting a nasty email from one of the cast members in the parade demanding that I remove the hotlink blocker so that he could use it on his "Disney Gay Boiz" site. When I refused, he then demanded I remove the photo since if he couldn't use it, I sure as hell shouldn't be able to use a photo of him! He became so belligerent in public comments on my site and elsewhere for my not allowing him access to the photo and against others that denied him as well, that eventually it involved discussions with the Disney Company and his threats of lawsuits. I fear that if this bill passes, he might just have the law on his side. I shudder to think of the "unintended" consequences this bill will expose anyone with a camera too, and the litigation and hassle of taking a photo of anything but pretty flowers.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2009 @ 10:37am

    Re: Re: Warning

    Yeah, some people have complained before because you click a link thinking you'll just to another website and all of a sudden Adobe is launching and slowing down your machine. It's really just a courtesy Mike's offering us, so we know when a link doesn't go to just another article 9like they usually do).

     

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  14.  
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    Mike (profile), May 6th, 2009 @ 10:39am

    Re: Warning

    I love the techdirt blog but what's the deal with "warning PDF".

    A lot of (especially older) computers and browsers have trouble with pdf files, so it causes trouble for some users. So I give them a warning so they realize it will be opening up a pdf reader.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2009 @ 10:46am

    take more pictures and post them everywhere

    stupid politicians, is this what the "people what"?

     

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  16.  
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    Jason, May 6th, 2009 @ 10:49am

    SO....

    I just have to post it on a regular website and post the link in my profile, right?

    This is absolutely a suspect class for restricting free speech. You can post your own photo on a news website, on a blog, or whatever else, but if you're on a social networking site, well then fsck free speech!

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2009 @ 10:54am

    Re:

    I'd like to hear how this was resolved.. if it was.

     

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  18.  
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    linda, May 6th, 2009 @ 11:05am

    Great blog, guess Ill be coming back for more...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Greg, May 6th, 2009 @ 11:06am

    Re:

    i totally agree. like the news report of the cop talking about a man who was killed and laughing about it. public officials seem to prefer the good old days where they could hide their dirty deeds.

     

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  20.  
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    Rick, May 6th, 2009 @ 11:13am

    Unconstitutional

    C'mon - how do these people get elected without a basic understanding of the constitution?

    I can see it now.

    The news reports on a serial killer. Serial killer forces them to remove their images from the news site along wi9th any video (video is just images strung together). The FBI is forced to remove the photo too, from the Most Wanted site.

    A candidate screws up and gets his picture taken frenching a minor - pic removed.

    Anyone in a picture, of say the inauguration of Obama, can now force the removal of the picture.

    Free Speech INCLUDES pictures....

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2009 @ 11:19am

    Re: take more pictures and post them everywhere

    Of course it is, even if they don't know it. Don't you wish YOU could get all those embarrassing pictures taken down?

     

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  22.  
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    Bizdisruptor, May 6th, 2009 @ 12:17pm

    Photo Removal Law

    The days of uploading video, photos, and just about anything is coming to end in the near future. The last thing any career politician or public figure wants is an image that can haunt them for life. Politicians create laws that protect them first and "we the people" when they get a chance. Politicians are no better than the average citizen. Public relation firms earn a lot of money making politicians appear to be an average American. In order to pass these laws they are going to tell us that it is for our children's safety. This is too much freedom in the eyes of CAREER POLITICIANS/ THEIF.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2009 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Unconstitutional

    "C'mon - how do these people get elected without a basic understanding of the constitution?"

    They get elected because people vote for them and personally I cant think of a stronger argument for drastically improving public education.

     

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  24.  
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    Chargone, May 6th, 2009 @ 3:02pm

    personally, i can't think of a stronger argument against the idea of popularly elected officials who don't answer to something more concrete than 'the will of the people' and less easily corruptable than they are [another elected official [hint: presidents count :P]? joke. right there].

    [cue 'why do you hate democracy' rants, but that's a different issue. also 'why do you hate America', answer: I'm not an American and they keep coming up with stuff like this]

    this post brought to you by the society for the use of brackets [which i created just now. wonder if i can use the protection of brackets against the evil parentheses as some sort of election platform? *laughs*]

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Joe, May 6th, 2009 @ 3:15pm

    Re:

    Makes sense... I guess since PDFs have always been painless for me I take for granted how much trouble they can potentially be. Kinda like how QuickTime crashes my browser 60% of the time, on several windows machines.

    And thanks for not shredding me on the PDF comment :-)

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2009 @ 7:28pm

    Hmm this issue is circa 1992. Would people please stop electing this relic to be a public official?

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2009 @ 8:34pm

    Rock - WebSite - HardPlace

    WebSite answer:
    No Photos allowed

    Thanks alot DB govmnt

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    yozoo, May 8th, 2009 @ 7:01am

    Re:

    "personally, i can't think of a stronger argument against the idea of popularly elected officials who don't answer to something more concrete than 'the will of the people' and less easily corruptable than they are [another elected official [hint: presidents count :P]? joke. right there]. "

    let me buy you a large glass of hemlock my greek friend

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Mike, May 9th, 2009 @ 1:51pm

    Scope *as written* appears to be easily worked around but frighteningly broad in principle

    Oddly, considering the OMG!!!11!!! emotion that must have engendered this crappy bill, it seems easy to work around. The bill purports to reach only social-networking sites such as Flickr, Facebook and MySpace, and empower the users of a given site to pull down images only within that same site. [There's an HTML version of the amended bill on this page, along with links to the committee votes (yes, plural, as two committees approved this shite).]

    So, it seems to me that a user on, say, Facebook, could post a note and link to "Pix of Bob" over on MySpace or the user's own webpage. Bob would be powerless, at least on Facebook.

    Fortunately, the best-and-brightest who brought us this bill did not think to expand the take-down authority across the Internet, to web-hosting companies and ISPs, and elsewhere. The principle that a person has near-absolute control over all images of himself or herself would seem to apply, however, regardless of where the "offending" image is hosted - even in meatspace. Perhaps Ass'y Member Davis has these latter iterations up his sleeve for the second and third rounds. After all, why simply cripple Anglo-American legal tradition when you can kill it outright?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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