Sweden Makes It Illegal To Take Photos In 'Private Environments' Without Permission

from the how-will-that-work? dept

Here on Techdirt we've had stories about how the ubiquity of digital cameras is changing the way we look at public events and art. But as has also become clear, the ability to take photos of more or less everything we see brings with it certain problems -- especially if what we see are police. So it was perhaps inevitable that the politicians would start to get involved, in order to "solve" some of those problems. Here's a rather extreme example from Sweden, as reported by TechHive:

Sweden's parliament has voted in favor of a law that bans taking pictures and filming in a private environment without first getting permission from people in attendance. Critics say the law is too ambiguous.

The Swedish Committee on Justice said the law, which goes into effect July 1, is needed since photographs or movies secretly shot in private settings can seriously violate an individual's privacy, and protection has been inadequate.
Well, that may be true, but it's hard to see how exactly this is going to work if you want to take a picture in a very crowded room, say -- how exactly are you supposed to get everyone that might be in a photo, to agree? Does it have to be in writing so that you can prove it? And what about if it's not a room, but still a "private environment"? Come to think of it, what exactly is that, anyway? From the article:
The law doesn't specify what constitutes consent or define a private environment. For example, what happens if a journalist invites a business executive to a reception in the journalist's home and secretly photographs the executive committing a criminal act, asked Maria Ferm, member of parliament for the Green Party, during the debate.
That underlines how this is likely to be used: to stop revelations of wrong-doing by public figures in private places. At least the new legislation is aware that this is an issue:
An exception from criminal liability is made if the act is justifiable in view of its purpose and other circumstances, and that provision includes journalistic work, according to the committee.
But until the exact limits of that provision are defined, along with what "justifiable" means, it seems inevitable that the new law will have a chilling effect on investigative journalism in Sweden. That's rather ironic, since you might expect that the abundance of digital cameras today would lead to the rich and powerful being caught out and called to account more often, not less.

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Filed Under: photographs, privacy, private environments, sweden

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  1. identicon
    Michael, 19 Jun 2013 @ 6:48am

    Translated to Swedish Chef

    Here-a oon Techdurt ve-a'fe-a hed stureees ebuoot hoo zee ubeeqooity ooff deegitel cemeres is chungeeng zee vey ve-a luuk et poobleec ifents und ert. Boot es hes elsu becume-a cleer, zee ebeelity tu teke-a phutus ooff mure-a oor less iferytheeng ve-a see-a breengs veet it certeeen prublems -- ispeceeelly iff vhet ve-a see-a ere-a puleece-a. Su it ves perheps inefeeteble-a thet zee puleeticiuns vuoold stert tu get infulfed, in oorder tu &qoout;sulfe-a&qoout; sume-a ooff thuse-a prublems. Here-a's a rezeer ixtreme-a ixemple-a frum Svedee, es repurted by TechHeefe-a:

    Svedee's perleeement hes futed in fefur ooff a lev thet buns tekeeng peectoores und feelming in a preefete-a infurunment veethuoot furst getteeng permeessiun frum peuple-a in ettendunce-a. Creetics sey zee lev is tuu embeegoouoos.

    Zee Svedeesh Cummeettee-a oon Joosteece-a seeed zee lev, vheech gues intu iffffect Jooly 1, is needed seence-a phutugrephs oor mufeees secretly shut in preefete-a setteengs cun sereeuoosly feeulete-a un indeefidooel's preefecy, und prutecshun hes beee inedeqooete-a.

    Vell, thet mey be-a trooe-a, boot it's herd tu see-a hoo ixectly thees is gueeng tu vurk iff yuoo vunt tu teke-a a peectoore-a in a fery crooded ruum, sey -- hoo ixectly ere-a yuoo sooppused tu get iferyune-a thet meeght be-a in a phutu, tu egree-a? Dues it hefe-a tu be-a in vreeting su thet yuoo cun prufe-a it? Und vhet ebuoot iff it's nut a ruum, boot steell a &qoout;preefete-a infurunment&qoout;? Cume-a tu theenk ooff it, vhet ixectly is thet, unyvey? Frum zee erteecle-a:

    Zee lev duesn't speceeffy vhet cunsteetootes cunsent oor deffeene-a a preefete-a infurunment. Fur ixemple-a, vhet heppens iff a juoorneleest infeetes a booseeness ixecooteefe-a tu a recepshun in zee juoorneleest's hume-a und secretly phutugrephs zee ixecooteefe-a cummeetting a creeminel ect, esked Mereea Ferm, member ooff perleeement fur zee Greee Perty, dooreeng zee debete-a.

    Thet underleenes hoo thees is leekely tu be-a used: tu stup refeleshuns ooff vrung-dueeng by poobleec feegoores in preefete-a pleces. Et leest zee noo legeesleshun is evere-a thet thees is un issooe-a:

    Un ixcepshun frum creeminel leeebility is mede-a iff zee ect is joosteeffieble-a in feeoo ooff its poorpuse-a und oozeer curcoomstunces, und thet prufeesiun incloodes juoorneleestic vurk, eccurdeeng tu zee cummeettee-a.

    Boot unteel zee ixect leemits ooff thet prufeesiun ere-a deffeened, elung veet vhet &qoout;joosteeffieble-a&qoout; meuns, it seems inefeeteble-a thet zee noo lev veell hefe-a a cheelling iffffect oon infesteegetife-a juoorneleesm in Svedee. Thet's rezeer iruneec, seence-a yuoo meeght ixpect thet zee eboondunce-a ooff deegitel cemeres tudey vuoold leed tu zee reech und pooerffool beeeng cooght oooot und celled tu eccuoont mure-a oofftee, nut less. Bork Bork Bork!

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