EU Court Says Simply Taking Someone's Photo Can Violate Their Civil Rights
from the who-did-what-now? dept
I’m definitely a big supporter of privacy rights, but sometimes it seems that big time privacy rights supporters go too far. The latest is that an EU court on human rights has declared that simply taking someone’s photograph can be a violation of their privacy. In the past, laws in Europe have said that you can’t necessarily publish a photo of someone without their permission, but merely taking the photo was allowed. No longer. In the press release about the decision, the court explained its reasoning:
“The Court reiterated that the concept of private life was a broad one which encompassed the right to identity. It stressed that a person’s image revealed his or her unique characteristics and constituted one of the chief attributes of his or her personality. The Court added that effective protection of the right to control one’s image presupposed, in the present circumstances, obtaining the consent of the person concerned when the picture was being taken and not just when it came to possible publication.”
Now, I could potentially understand such reasoning in private settings, but the statements above don’t seem to limit the issue to private settings. The situation in the case itself also highlights what’s a gray area between public and private. It involved a hospital that photographed a newborn baby — as it does with all newborn babies. The parents protested and demanded the negatives, claiming that the photograph violated their baby’s privacy rights — and the court agreed. What’s troubling is the implications of such a ruling, that you simply cannot photograph anyone without their official approval. This will almost certainly lead to new lawsuits, and even begins to raise some other questions. If it’s a violation of someone’s privacy rights to photograph them, at what point is it a violation of their rights just to see them?