What Right To Privacy Do You Have In An Age Of User-Generated Media?

from the not-very-much dept

Dave writes in to point to a ruling by the “Press Complaints Commission” in the UK, saying that the media needs to be careful to respect individual’s privacy rights in making use of user-generated media. As we all know, many news organizations have increasingly learned to leverage the fact that so many people are carrying around mobile phones that can take photos and record video. When news stories break, the news organizations are more than willing to make use of this content to add value to the story — as they should. However, what if the video is taken in private somewhere and reveals things it shouldn’t? That was the case before the PCC, where a news organization had used a student’s cameraphone video of an unruly classroom in a story. The school complained that no one had given consent to be filmed. The PCC noted that the story clearly was a matter of public interest, but that the people in the video should have been hidden, so as not to be as easily identified.

Of course, this sounds good in theory, but becomes very tricky in practice. In fact, this story is similar to one a few years ago, where a school punished the students for filming an angry outburst by a teacher, rather than blaming the teacher for the outburst. The efforts to hide these videos often comes across more as a way to coverup the very problem that resulted in the filming in the first place. It’s like blaming a whistle blower. At the same time, it’s ridiculous to think that such content can be blocked. Sure, they can tell “the media” that it can’t use that kind of content, but that won’t stop the content from showing up on YouTube anyway. In fact, this ruling makes it harder for the “official” media to report on certain stories, while guaranteeing that others will do so instead.

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Comments on “What Right To Privacy Do You Have In An Age Of User-Generated Media?”

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anthony (user link) says:


i am a teenager, in 15 and i just started my sophmore year. However, i would like to say about filiming teachers while they explode…
STUDENTS PREVOKE A TEACHER TO YELL so they can record it on their phones!. At my school we dont have this problem yet. but on my trip to europe, i saw this alot. depantsing ect.

so, what do you think is right ?

Brad says:

It's because they're minors

The problem is that many news organizations are held to a standard (in the US at least, and sounds to be the same in UK) whereby they cannot identify a minor publicly. Consent to be videotaped for ANY reason must be given to parents prior to the admission of a film crew to a school campus.

This would have been just fine if they’d blurred the faces. The problem is you’re not allowed to show minors on TV without the consent of their legal guardians.

This had nothing to do with “hiding the unruly actions of teenagers” but is a reaction to a long-standing set of laws against the news media (print, television, or otherwise) “profiting” off of the display of a minor’s image.

Anonymous Coward says:

As Brad said, the whole point here not not covering up a teachgers outburst of whatever. It’s about the rest of the students in the class who had no say in their faces being pasted all over the media.

I for one avoid news cameras like the plague when I see them in the streets, I don’t want to be on camera, even if I’m just a passerby.

The simple fact is the news agency should have blurred the background students faces. It’s not that hard to do, they’re just lazy with their free media footage.

RandomThoughts (user link) says:

These are interesting topics and there are a lot of points of view. NBC is not allowed to show minors or private situations without getting consent, but how much sense does that make when the same video can get 10 million hits on YouTube? Should YouTube be held to the right standard (figure that one out when they can’t keep copyright issues straight.)

Do we tell NBC that they can air what they like? Do we restrict YouTube? Can you now sue your neighbor for putting film of you on YouTube?

Google is taking pictures, kind of the “what you will see at this location” deal, do people have a right to privacy, not having their image spread to the world?

|333173|3|_||3 says:

students aren't allowed to film without consent

At every school, students have been forbidden from filming within the school grounds without consent from staff and, if filming students, the students themselves, and there are restrictions on the publications of the videos. Simply filming without permission could get you detention, publishing a video without permission got a student threatened with a fortnight’s suspension if he ever did it again. Furthermore, if a phone is seen in class, at every school I went to it could be confiscated for up to a term, depending on how disruptive you were being with it and whether it had already been confiscated.

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