Posted by: jstrieder | November 12, 2014

Who’s in Charge of “Privacy”? Maybe Your Subject.

With all due respect to the Center for Social Media and the EFF, the most important aspects of privacy is not what the law says. It’s what people HOPE it says.

In the real world, everyone has their own opinion about what constitutes an invasion of privacy by a journalist. You will have to answer to your readers and subjects even when the law is on your side.

I was recently shooting video in a Goodwill to cover the store’s grand opening. Two separate individuals approached me with concerns. One asked if I had permission, and when I said yes, he countered with “Are you sure?” He then told his wife in Spanish to be mindful of the camera. Another man simply stated, “I do not give you permission to film me.” I told him that I had permission from the store and that he was in public, but he argued that a Goodwill store was privately owned, so he wasn’t. I said I’d avoid closeups of him.

Most angry subjects, convinced that you have violated his or her rights, will not retain a lawyer or even look up the law. Instead, they will complain to your advertisers, supervisors or sponsors. Or they may take to social media. Or they will confront you in person.

Another question: Is it legal to photograph a minor in public without their parent’s consent? A lot of parents don’t think so.

I found this resource helpful in exploring those questions.

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