back to article Is filming someone in the street a breach of privacy?

A 40-year-old woman is suing a Croatian TV station after it filmed her in public and then featured her in a documentary about obesity. Gordana Knezic was shopping in Zagreb and did not know that she was being filmed, Ananova reports. A privacy expert said that in the UK only some photographs taken in public are subject to …


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  1. Vincent
    Paris Hilton


    Permission should be obtained from the person who was filmed before the show is broadcast.

    That's what I think, at least.

    Paris because she always gives permission. ;D

  2. Dave


    if you are on a public steet and the person with the camera is also on a public street then where is your expectation of privacy ??

    If you wanted privacy you shouldnt have gone out. You cant expect to be free from everything if you interact with public society.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Help me here, please.

    I'm a private citizen (not jurno) in a public place and I take a picture of a scene (in public place)were I believe a crime is being committed in which the potential criminal can be readily identified. Do I have a defence? For example, if attacked by the miscreant can I use reasonable force to defend myself? Can I deny a police officers demands to stop/desist and/or handover the pictures as making them available to others may prejudice a possible prosecution? Just asking...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    I've often wondered...

    ...about those news shots they show of "some fat people walking down the street yesterday" that just show their arses. Seems that in some cases people must be identifiable.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The question is though... she fat?

    That is all.

  6. Neil


    If you are on the street - in a public place - you have no expectations of privacy. If you are in your home, or on your own property, then you do.

    The woman isn't upset about being filmed - she's probably filmed 50 times a day by CCTV cameras anyway. She's upset because embarrased. She might stand a chance on suing on those grounds.

    However, if she's a big fat fatty then she couldn't really complain about being shown on a program about other lard arses could she? It's not the program-makers fault. Everyone who knows her already knows she is fat. It'd be kind of hard to miss.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If it hadn't been a documentary on Obesity, would she have cared?

  8. Dave Ross
    Paris Hilton

    Photoshop is the answer!

    For articles like this where the identity of the indiviual is not of import, surely 20 seconds with and image editor blurring the faces of all those visible would not be a problem?

    PH because I bet she has had her photo taken in public as much as any other individual on the planet.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not a tricky question

    If you're not in private then it can't be a breach of privacy. You don't have to like it, and it is a double edged sword. But whatever else it is, it's not a tricky question.

  10. Dave

    That'll buy quite a few cream buns

    Perhaps instead of compensation they could pay for a lifetime membership to a gym?

  11. Whitter

    Guess work

    I'm guessing the person in question is fat.

    So the real issue is that calling somebody fat, who is fat, is illegal?

    I'd think it tasteless and lacking in empathy, but not illegal.

  12. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    She's a lardarse

    and therefore cannot be concerned about her personal dignity.

    there's no dignity when it takes a few seconds for outlying regions of your own body to stop walking.

    And I speak as a bit of a porker myself (15st 5'6").

    Where she DOES have a compaint is that they used her on a TV program. That should be asked for. If they filmed her and she was "in the crowd" then there's no problem: her visual was an unavoidable consequence of it being a public place. But if they take a piccy and use it specifically for a point, they should ask if you're OK with it.

    That's not an invasion of privacy, that's just common decency. It's not as if they can't find another lardarse out there to film and ask them if the woman refused.

  13. Anonymous Coward


    Everyone she knows will have seen her on TV and know how fat she is. Plus people she doesn't know, will see her on the street an recognize how fat she is.

    On a more serious note: Tto be fair, a bit of incidental footage is one thing, if they turned her into an unwitting reality TV star, that's another.

  14. Pete Silver badge

    confused about terminology.

    OK, I understand the meaning of the word "private" - keeping things confidential and away from the observation and knowledge of others. However, I can't help but thinking that "public" means the opposite: in view of others and open to their gaze or scrutiny (my definitions, not from a dictionary).

    So when one is in a public place - knowingly, how can there be any expectation of privacy?

    You can't go up to people in the street and tell them to stop looking at you. Well, you can, if you don't mind them muttering "nutter" under their breath. Similarly, you can't go around chopping down CCTV cameras, just in case they happen to catch a shot of your face.

    So where exactly does this conflicted and inconsistent idea public privacy come from? Are we so scared that everyone we don't know is some sort of pervert, that every action they undertake should be assumed to be for the worst possible reasons?

    I have a theory that none of this is actually about people innocently including passers-by in their photos (afterall, people only get annoyed when they realise they've been photographed). Anyone who lives in a "touristy" area is so used to the idea of being included - either implicitly or explicitly in other peoples' photos, the idea of objecting is laughable. No, it's more of a backlash against the overwhelmingly intrusive state. Since we are totally impotent to act against it, the protesters channel their dislike against the only subjects possible: normal people, legally doing something similar to what they object to.

    Personally, I don't care who takes my photo. When I'm in a public place, I'm fair game. Likewise to anyone who films me for whatever reason. All I ask is that they spell my name correctly in the credits.

  15. Stephen Macken

    The end of news...

    If this case is won, it will make newsgathering and documentary film making all but impossible. While I sympathise with the context with which her image was used, I cannot take her side on this issue. Images acquired in a public space must be protected from such spurious claims unless they are libelous and in this case, it is hardly libelous and more likely just a factual statement.

  16. Alan Fisher

    and so it begins

    you'll have the BBC getting sued by people who appear in the background during news reports or anyone who appears in anything filmed anywhere! The greed of people (on two counts here I feel) is to blame but just as much the greed of solictors who will represent anyone for anything these days, anywhere is a sniff of some money!

    I wonder if she'd have complained had it been a different kind of show, if it was a fashion show I'll be she'd have loved it! The flexibility of people's morals eh? I suppose the lady is question was of a larger build? The Reg didn't say but I can't imagine a thin person objecting to this somehow...

    the world has gone bonkers! Trying to sue one's parents for somehow conceiving an ugly or somehow disadvantaged child is only round the corner.......

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Being in public is not consent to remove privacy

    IMHO, simply being in public is not consent to remove privacy rights.

    It's not as though you have a choice but to appear in public, you have to go to work, you have to buy food, you could wear a mask perhaps, but even that is an offence in the UK if it's for concealing your identity.

    So how can it possibly be consent to remove privacy when you have no real choice?

    i.e. using footpaths does not entitle TV companies to use your fat image. Using roads does not entitle the rozzers to track you with ANPR or walking down the street does not entitle person tracking with CCTV biometric face recognition, using the GSM network does not entitled Wacked-Out-on-Pot-Jacqui to track who-calls-who or where-everyone-is under the data retention database she's planning.

    BTW, I see Boy George was prosecuted once (22 years ago) not for possession of drugs but for SAYING HE ONCE used drugs. Jacqui Smith, Home Secretary once admitted to smoking cannabis at University "more than 25 years ago" which it would have been a Class B drug.

    It seems to me that she is setting a bad example to todays youths by her blantant admission of consumption of 'lethal' drugs, and should be prosecuted.... as she said herself recently "MPs are not above the law" when she proposed the new "sinners will be stoned and I get to cast the first one" policy.

  18. Stuart
    Thumb Down

    Fat Chance!

    If she wanted her fatness hidden from view - then stop eating!

    Its not nice to see these expanding waistlines every day knowing you are going to foot their medical bills resulting from their selfish overindulgence.

    I have no problem paying for helping folks who do have a genuine medical condition - but these are a tiny proportion of the obese. Perhaps showing the obese as we see them would be a better idea than trying to cause yet more grief to photographers and reporters trying to record real life. In the end shaming them might just save their lives!

  19. Hollerith

    depends on the purpose

    If i am captured on film as a general member of the public, just a typical person on a typical high street, well, I am unwittingly helping others make money, but what the heck. But if I am singled out, say, as a disabled person and featured as a disabled person who clearly is not aware of the new prosthetics, silly, silly me, then I would feel that I was being abused and held up to ridicule, and I'd want to sue their socks off.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Report it to

    the IWF. Job done.

    Joke Alert in case Struan R thinks it's a good idea

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Won't anyone think of the

    native american indian, some who believe their spirit is stolen when a photo of them is taken.

    I thought you needed a release form to publish a picture of someone where they were recognisable.

    Anyway it is a war out there, personal privacy has gone to the wind, and defamation seems to be the order of the day, no one is liked, no one is respected, those behind the camera are shown to be self serving pricks, and those in front just chattel in an ongoing psyops war. I blame education and a Labour government it just produces nasty people

    I hope she wins, it is a bit off to be called a chubster on national TV, and have no control over how it is shown. I would be interested to see the camera man, I bet they are either anorexic, or obese, have halitosis and in grown toe nails, along with a really ugly face.

  22. Dan
    Thumb Down

    A slippery slope

    So if a photograph does not constitute personal data on the grounds that it does not allow you to go straight round to her house, how long before authorities get the idea of saying 'ok, we have your dna and fingerprints on file, but as your address is in a different database, that means it's not personal data and hence not subject to the DPA?

  23. Andrew McLachlan

    Forget about Birthday/Holiday pics

    You're gonna need a waiver from your friends soon for social pics.

    Holiday snaps? Nope people in them also.

    Crowd scenes in TV/Movies? Nope

    CCTV - Yes of course. Government can take pics, keep them, not let you see them etc...

    What a lunatic world this is....

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    no pictures here...

    Bye bye to street photography. :(

  25. Eddie Edwards
    Thumb Down

    CCTV footage

    I find it somewhat disturbing that councils running CCTV supposedly in the public interest are so happy to sell any footage that might be considered interesting or amusing to the media.

    This is a clear abuse of position and should not be tolerated.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    There are actually 2 separate issues here I think.

    The first is whether someone should have any right to take pictures / have their picture taken when they are in a public place.

    The second is what is then done with that picture.

    Most of us accept we will be photographed without our direct permission many times in our lives, by security cameras, incidentally as tourists take pictures of places where we may be and so on, and that is just part and parcel of life in the 21st century. We also expect that if we photograph something of interest to us we won't get arrested / prosecuted / sued if someone is accidentally or incidentally captured in the same image.

    Most of us would be at least a little uneasy if these pictures were then broadcast or made available ( on noes!!! think of teh children!!!111!!!!11!!!!eleventy-one!!) or even worse used in a program in a way to make us look bad in some manner. Especially when there is no real need to identify individuals as faces can be obscured or just missed out.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    IMO this is an interesting question, morally. (Sod the law, it never seems to get awkward decisino right.) My first reaction, that one has no privacy in a public place, seems flawed on further consideration. I suggest that one relevant factor is whether one has been insulted, or otherwise abused, as well as whether one is identifiable and whether one's image is passed around for public view. It sounds like one of those situations where each case should be considered on its own merits.

  28. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Fat Chance!

    >In the end shaming them might just save their lives!

    Yeah, stick 'em in the stocks! Although if you pelted them with food they'd only eat it, huh.

    The privacy thing is complex but does there have to be quite so much of the playground stuff about fat people? You can't get all moralistic about it while suggesting 'lardarse' is a fair epithet. And anyway I'm only firing on about a third of my cylinders and can't deal with an onslaught of mean today.

    You don't suddenly lose your rights - whatever rights are afforded to others - just because you can't fit into size 12 pants, in any case.

  29. Thurstan R McDougle

    Privacy is not a Yes/No status

    Privacy is a relative item, not absolute, going along a street with say a dozen people seeing you is not the same as having your picture shown to thousands or millions or people and residing in long term archives etc!

  30. Mark

    re: Being in public is not consent to remove privacy

    "i.e. using footpaths does not entitle TV companies to use your fat image. "

    No, and that is the common decency aspect: a civilised society would have them ask before the image can be used on TV if they are the reason FOR the image.

    That isn't a privacy thing, it's defamation (if the context given for your image is bad, i.e. look at lardy). It's an insult. And insulting someone is or can be illegal.

    So ask.

    But if your wide load is traversing a landmark someone is filming for TV, it isn't insulting. Unless they say "Jeez, that' guys arse is nearly blocking the view!!!!"). The image is of the landmark, not your butt.

  31. Mark
    Dead Vulture

    @Sarah Bee

    I don't see where I thought she lost her rights. She should not be held up for ridicule for commercial or public use. They SHOULD have asked. If only because "here's some pictures of fat people" and having your picture on there is insulting (depending on how you approach the subject: some won't mind). And so they were wrong in putting her picture up without consent.

    Heck, criminals are blocked out from "Cops" or whatever, even when they have been found guilty before airing.

    What she can't go and do is complain that it's a privacy issue.

    It isn't.

    It's one of dignity and insult to it.

    And THAT is the reason they should have asked.

  32. Luther Blissett

    We need balanced reporting

    Every time the media want to show a fatty, they should be compelled to show a skinny. For balance - like wot nu labour always say, it's a matter of social justice.

  33. Alan Fisher

    like so many here say

    this sounds very like transferrence; she's upset about being called a tubster or the very implication of such and this is what she objects to....however does not realise (in her whatever-the-local-equivalent-of-the-Daily-Mail-is mind) that being doing this she will be exposing herself to even more ridicule and having her face all over that cover of her selfsame favourite example of the gutter press..will she try to sue them for doing that too??

    This is just another example of why we need some kind of global natural catastrophe and soon, a lot of the human race could do with being wiped out! We're turning into self-deluding, obsessive and greedy, grasping people and this can only get worse. Also the whole "you can't call me fat" thing annoys the heck out of me, I used to be fat myself (to use the very un-PC term) and staying thin takes a lot of effort and willpower but I manage, why can't these people? Viz, tis no-one's fault but their own!

    I hope they countersue and take away all her biscuit money!

  34. Dave

    She has a point

    As noted above, if it was a crowd shot, hey what the hell, but as she was targeted and ridiculed for commercial gain, thats something else completely.

    Bring it on

  35. Graham Marsden

    In a public place...

    In the UK you have no right to demand privacy if you are in a public place. If someone takes a picture of you, that's perfectly legal.

    What they do not have the right to do is to publish or use that photograph in a "defamatory" way and, had the women mentioned in the article been in the UK they could have sued on this basis.

    Had the face been blurred out or the figure only shot from the neck down they would not have been identifiable and so there wouldn't have been a problem.

    PS @Help me here, please. "Can I deny a police officers demands to stop/desist and/or handover the pictures as making them available to others may prejudice a possible prosecution? Just asking..."

    As far as I understand the law, yes, you can, see and for more information.

  36. Anonymous Coward


    I think a lot of your posters mistake privacy for being in private. Privacy is the right to be protected against intrusion into your personal life or affairs, or that of your family, either directly or by publication of information (Calcutt, 1990).

    Having your photo publicised and attached to a story, even if the photo was taken in a public place, breaks this contract. There may be a valid public interest justification but thats another matter.

    Imagine if a TV programme showed you looking at a group of children playing in the park, or apparently following some girls along the road and ran a voice over "one in ten of us is a child molester....".

  37. Sooty

    it's not about being photographed

    i accept that i am being photographed constantly in public places, its the publication of those images for commercial purposes that needs to be restricted.

    If someone takes my photo, i don't really care, i don't even care if they post it up for people, as long as it's not malicious, but if someone then goes on to use a photo of me to make money, they should not be allowed without my explicit permission, (which, yes, would involve an agreement for me to get a share of the money and sod the paparazzi)

  38. bass daddy
    Paris Hilton


    If you point a camera at someone because of their weight and then use this in a documentary about fat people then OF COURSE this is an invasion of privacy if you don't gain permission first. How else can it not be? End of!!

    Paris? Because she's got a mighty fine booty that should be filmed and included in any documentary about anything at anytime everywhere. Nuff said

  39. Dick Emery
    Paris Hilton

    Photo snappers

    Photographers face this problem everyday. Especialy so in parks for obvious reasons.

    Paris because she knows all about photographers.

  40. mike jones
    Paris Hilton

    "If she is fat then she shouldn't...

    care about being on a show about fat people". What a stupid comment

    Hey, may be an OTT comparison, but the principle is the same. Imagine they filmed your wife for a documentary titled "Mutton slags dressed as lamb married to spineless wimps". Would you be annoyed? Upset? Pissed off? Of course you would. They should ask permission first for a show that could cause embarrassment, or make it so the person can not be identified.

    Having said that, if it is just a shot of the street and she happens to be there, then she should have no expectation of privacy. I don't think this a case of violated privacy, rather embarrassment for the lady.

    Paris, as she knows a thing or two about embarrassment caused by filming.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    So judging by the majority of the comments on this thread... don't consider it a breach of privacy when you're randomly filmed on the street by someone without being specifically picked out for fitting some category or other.

    So can you honestly say, with a straight face, that Google Street View doesn't creep you out? Even though it's not even targeted at people, but at scenery.

    It's not just the way that the photo is to be used, it's also about trusting who does the filming...

  42. Anonymous Coward


    If a person in a public setting is to be treated differently from all others in that public setting then it seems common courtesy for the producers/directors to approach that person and seek explicit permission first. And to give reasons for that different treatment.

    A public setting should be just that - a public setting. In this case it seems the person has been abused equally as if a gang of ruffians or vandals set about him/her and his/her property.

    Thus spake moi?

  43. Anonymous Coward


    if you do not want to be identified in public, then wear a burkka... they cant even identify you at a airport wearing a burkka !!!

    mines the one that pulls right over my face ~~

  44. Mark
    Dead Vulture

    re:So judging

    I don't see anyone saying that except for the AC who derides that.

    So please stop putting words in people's mouths and then lambasting them for saying it. That's called "strawman" and the farmers need the straw for winter feed.

  45. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    re: "If she is fat then she shouldn't...

    Where is that a comment? Can't find it on the page, so the only person to say that stupid comment is you, Mike.

  46. Mark
    Paris Hilton


    "I think a lot of your posters mistake privacy for being in private. ...Imagine if a TV programme showed you looking at a group of children playing in the park, or apparently following some girls along the road and ran a voice over "one in ten of us is a child molester...."."

    I think some posters are reading the invisible runes.

    I have not yet seen that the woman didn't have a legitimate complaint. Just not that her privacy is infringed. Her dignity, yes.

    Which isn't the problem with the hypothetical you posted either. the problem there was insinuation that the person's image is that of a paedo. That's not ***privacy*** that's ***slander***.

    Just because it's not illegal under one law doesn't mean it's not illegal under any law.


    Some people need to get the fat out of their head...

  47. Mark

    On dignity

    It is about the fact that society itself should show dignity, not that she deserves it preserved for her.

    Because it is our treatment of others we show our humanity.

    But that doesn't mean we have a right to DEMAND that dignity be afforded, since that isn't asking that society be nice to others, that's demanding treatment. That way lies a world where you can't give someone an honest opinion and must lie or avoid the question.

    If your arse IS fat, then yes, your bum DOES look big in that.

    But society should not go around offering the unsolicited opinion about the size of the hindquarters because that's not nice.

    If she demands from others then she should apply herself to the aid likewise. Exercise. Eat less. Be healthier. You'll live longer and when older will still be healthy rather than worn before your time. If you DEMAND that people stop calling you fat, try to work towards, oh, I dunno, not being fat?

    And me? If I'd seen her picture on the TV and knew that she hadn't been asked for its use, I would have told the TV producer off. But she demands dignity from others in the face of truth, and that's a different matter.

  48. Farai
    Paris Hilton


    the footage is going to be used for commercial gain or public broadcast, the broadcaster or potential beneficiary must obtain your permission.

    Pre or post-filming doesn't matter if it's in public, but it must be pre-sale or pre-broadcast.

    End of...

    Paris, because she knows ALL about private footage :D

  49. Tom Wood

    @Graham Marsden

    "In the UK you have no right to demand privacy if you are in a public place. If someone takes a picture of you, that's perfectly legal.

    What they do not have the right to do is to publish or use that photograph in a "defamatory" way and, had the women mentioned in the article been in the UK they could have sued on this basis."

    Absolutely agree with the first three-quarters of your statement above. Though you can't defame someone by stating the truth. If she is clinically obese, then calling her obese is not defamatory. (Similarly, if she is anorexic, then calling her anorexic would't be defamatory). Calling someone "ugly" or a "drug addict" or even "fat" when there is no evidence that any of those claims is true would be defamatory, but if someone is clearly overweight you can't defame them by stating that when it would be plainly obvious to anyone.

    You could invade someone's privacy by releasing true information about them which is of no concern to the public. As a different example, if you show a picture of someone in the street (not taking drugs...) and put a caption saying they're a "drug addict" when they are not, that could be libel, because you're claiming something that is not true. If they are in fact a drug addict, but that's not already clear from the photo, then the caption isn't libellous, but it could be considred invasion of their privacy. If they are pictured in a public place clearly taking drugs, then you could call them a "drug user" without being either libellous or invading their privacy (though maybe calling them an "addict" could be either libel or invasion of privacy, as you can't tell someone's addiction status from a photograph...)

  50. Steven Jones


    "That isn't a privacy thing, it's defamation (if the context given for your image is bad, i.e. look at lardy). It's an insult. And insulting someone is or can be illegal."

    Defamation is a false accusation or a misrepresentation of somebody's motives, actions, morals or similar to their disadvantage. Insults are only defamatory if they are grossly untrue. Calling (or implying) somebody is fat when they are is not defamation. Calling John Prescott both fat and a fathead is neither defamatory (as the first accusation is true) or defamatory as the second part comes under fair comment and there's plenty of evidence for it. Well I suppose he might try and sue somebody for it but even on the UK's ridiculous libel laws he won't get far. Insults can also be illegal (in UK law) if they are liable to cause a breach of the peace and there are some grounds - race, religion, sexuality and so on which can get you into hot water if they are deemed likely to lead to hatred.

    However, calling somebody fat when they are is neither insulting or defamatory in any legal sense.

    That's not to say that picking on somebody off the street at random to humiliate or poke fun at should be considered acceptable behaviour. I feel this ought to be the role of standards bodies rather than the sledge-hammer of the law. I'm suspicious of privacy laws when they stray into (literally) public areas or severely impinge freedom of speech. Unfortunately the press (in the UK at least) have hardly shown themselves to be responsive in the way that they tend to treat the press complaints commission as little more than a minor nuisance.


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