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.

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Comments on “More Troubling Proposed Anti-Social Networking Laws: CA Wants Photo Removal Law”

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Bettawrekonize (profile) says:

What about cases like this

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).

RD says:


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.

Bettawrekonize (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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…).

Anonymous Coward says:

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).

Mike P. says:

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.

Rick says:


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….

Bizdisruptor says:

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.

Chargone says:

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*]

yozoo says:

Re: 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

Mike (user link) says:

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?

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