Street photography and privacy
First off, please believe me - I WANT to keep my privacy. I don't like government or businesses or... well... ANYONE keeping tabs on where I go, what I read, and whom I talk to.
The problem, though, is that - unless I want to wear a disguise when I go out, anyone who cares to WILL know all of those things.
BECAUSE I AM DOING THEM IN PUBLIC.
Re: "Just DO it ...: -Anon:
"If the USA had any worthwhile data protection, google would be forced to identify and remove personal information from its streetviews -- either that, or obtain the permission of the subject. But google would not be obliged to find out who the people are, it could simply DO it as a matter of course and leave it at that."
Are you only insisting that commercial operations do this, or would you insist that ANYONE taking photos in a public place do so?
Thought experiment: You take a photo of your family/friends while on vacation. Afterwards, a stranger comes up to you and saya "I was in the background of that picture that you just shot and it is an invasion of my privacy to take my picture without my permission. I insist you delete it, immediately."
A - Delete the picture immediately and offer to let the person check your camera (we're assuming a digital camera, here) to see if s/he is in any other pics so you can delete them, too;
B -Thank the stranger for coming over, whip out your handy pad of Permission Forms and politely ask that s/he sign one, authorizing the use of his her image in your offline/online family photo album, then run around getting similar waivers from everyone else who was visible in the snap, or
C - Tell the complainant to take a flying one through a rolling doughnut because you weren't TRYING to take their picture and it's not your fault they got in the way?
Re: "privacy is so last century" - jeremy
"Although a little utopian, the only way we can regain control is to put the assumption of ownership with the subject (i.e. i own rights to all my data / images of me etc)."
The assumption that the individual should own ANYTHING that might, conceivably, identify the individual - potentially to their detriment - is attractive at first but is ultimately (and perhaps counterintuitvely) hazardous to any attempt to maintain a free society.
In the US, at least in the state where I live, the difference lies in whether you are in a place where you can REASONABLY have an assumption of privacy. For example, if someone were to take your picture among a crowd of shoppers on the sales floor of a clothing store you would, since you are out among a crowd of people (and assuming that the photographer is not stalking you, personally) have no reasonable expectation of privacy and so trhe photographer's right to shoot a picture which includes you wins. If the photographer took your picture in the dressing rooms of the store, where you WOULD have a reasoinable assumption of privacy, your right to privacy wins.
At what point does the need to publicize items of public interest or possible wrongdoing outweigh the individual's right to privacy? A friend of mine, some years ago, got a phone call from her mother (who lived a half-dozen states away), scolding her for jaywalking that day. It seems that the Weather Channel had used footage shot by a local station's news department of a street scene showing the heavy rain in the area that day, which just happened to catch my friend (among others) crossing against the light. Her mother was checking the local forecast and caught the 10-second film clip.
Shouild my friend have sued the cameraman, local station and TWC for invasion of privacy and public embarrassment? Or (as she did) admit that getting caught doing something dumb in public was just what can happen if you do something dumb in public?
Should she have had the right to insist that any images of her were her property and no one else should be allowed to use them without her permission?
What about the campus security officers caught on video tasering a student in the campus library? Should the photographer (not a member of the press - just someone who happened to be on the scene) have gotten their permission before releasing the video?
What about the images of people running away from the falling WTC towers? Should they have the right to have their images removed, since their presence was not materially related to the event being covered - the destruction of the towers?
At what point between these three examples would you draw the line and why?