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Big Orange

Photography And Personal Privacy - Where Do You Draw The Line?

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With the universal prevalence of digital cameras, becoming radically more advanced inside cellphones especially in the past half decade, not being seen has become much, much less possible. But are people and institutions becoming more ridiculously paranoid that by throwing up such a fuss they draw more unwanted attention to themselves than they would've done otherwise or even cause embarrassing, even dangerous avoidable incidents? Case in point on two occasions where this kind of thing occurred to me recently was in a anime convention and a public area in a shopping centre - in the first incident I photographed a cosplayer and somebody happened to be in the way, sitting clearly in front of my shot. It was clearly intrusive and badly timed, he wasn't pleased, but he politely told me to delete the offending photo from my digital camera. I politely complied. Fair enough.

But the second more legitimately preposterous incident was in a public city square - when I was testing out my 360 panoramic camera mode on my new Samsung, some middle aged gangster wannabe sitting on the bench five meters behind me started throwing a mini-fit about permission and threatening to smash my phone, merely because his undefined, blurred face (in a shadow) was in the bottom right corner of a broad landscape photograph! It was not really breaching his personal space and privacy - it was really the 2010s equivalent of "Wat da fuk yer th'ink yer lookin' aat!" since while it's understandable some people feel instinctively uncomfortable about being observed or recorded in some way, you also just get plain assholes who have their anger and paranoia heavily amplified (the shopping area was close walking distance to a courthouse and an infamous hostel where somebody was fatally knifed because he "dissed" someone, so that could explain the idiot who started on me) and deadbeats would see somebody with a camera as another perceived challenge. Also around sensitive buildings and corporate areas, anti-photography laws are a fig leaf for security and cops to swoop down and accost people perceived as loitering suspiciously and I have a bad feeling this kind of thing could eventually store up big trouble (like market stall permit restrictions in Tunisia trouble). What do you think?

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Used to specialize in taking street candids for fun (not always women) and had few problems, despite sailing close to the wind at times. Not so much since I left London.

I do get the feeling that the atmosphere is more oppressive now than it once was, having been accosted a few times by cops and security guards.

On one memorable occasion, I was challenged as a potential paedo while nonchalantly testing a new Nikon body (not in the direction of children, I might add) as i waited for my daughter to come out of ballet class

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A few years ago when outing paedos was all the rage, a parent outside the local Primary School got all suspicious about a white van parked outside the school as the kids were coming out.

In a huge fit of self righteousness, he pulled open the sliding door to reveal two men with a complicated camera on a tripod.

Smugly shouting at the top of his voice, he made his accusation.

Turned out it was a speed camera that the PTA had been badgering the Police for months to use outside the school.

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Some years ago I too was challenged by a member of the public for waving a camera about. It's photography. I explained. It's a hobby.

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I apologise to the OP if this is not quite what he had in mind by the topic, but in a related vein..

Would it be acceptable for the secret services to activate the cameras in the phones of everyone in an area of a city and run face recognition on the data in order to find a person of interest?

Could fear of this type of intrusion be part of the reason why people are more paranoid now?

Perhaps guy in the corner of the panoramic was worried someone or something would realise that he was in breach of a restraining order or not as disabled as he claims to be. Social media sharing and automatic face recognition would also add to this kind of concern.

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You don't get this issue when taking pics when drunk. After every day/night out I have a raft of random pics of strangers + my pals to look through the next day.

Usually some unfortunate random just walking along the street who gets accosted by a bunch of drunks :)

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Would it be acceptable for the secret services to activate the cameras in the phones of everyone in an area of a city and run face recognition on the data in order to find a person of interest?

Could fear of this type of intrusion be part of the reason why people are more paranoid now?

It wouldn't be remotely acceptable but I don't think that's why some people get bothered.

We're in a position these days where a complete and utter lack of respect for privacy (including peoples' own at times) runs headlong into serious over-reactions. My own opinion is that I'd draw the line at making someone the subject of a photo.

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I apologise to the OP if this is not quite what he had in mind by the topic, but in a related vein..

Would it be acceptable for the secret services to activate the cameras in the phones of everyone in an area of a city and run face recognition on the data in order to find a person of interest?!

There's a sci fi show following that premise called Persons of Interest .

Perhaps guy in the corner of the panoramic was worried someone or something would realise that he was in breach of a restraining order or not as disabled as he claims to be. Social media sharing and automatic face recognition would also add to this kind of concern.

I had a feeling he was criminal riff raff with something to hide (ie. breaching something in his parole or suspended sentence) and feared at the drastically remote chance if my blurred, unidentifiable photo of the ugly dude ended up on social media it would expose him. But I'm paying for his self made problems not mine for taking an casual photograph. He could have also been having a gag reflex to "happy slapping".

Law enforcement being jumpy about public photography has trickled down to the criminal underclass they have dealings with, cops and criminals come across as unhinged paranoid berks, and casual photography is seen as an excuse to go up to people.

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How can there be an expectation of privacy in a public place? I don't think permission is required to take a photo of someone in public but I'm sure 'broadcasting' that image or commercially exploiting it would be different.

I don't understand why people are afraid of others taking photos of buildings, etc. It might be a terrorist but it probably isn't. Also there's nothing to stop said 'terrorist' using their brain to remember any relevant information rather than taking a photo of it. Or studying equivalent photos online, etc., etc.

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It's pretty annoying where your own kids are concerned. So if there's a school play, one single parent anonymously saying no to allowing photos, means no-one can take a single photo. Or on sports day. Or when a team wins a competition.

The won't just drag the kid whose parents don't allow photos out of the way so the rest of the parents can take a photo, because that identifies and "stigmatises" the child. I suppose there are circumstances where there is a legitimate reason, but in most cases I'm pretty sure it's just the natural result of the constant fear-mongering with regard to children's safety.

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My own opinion is that I'd draw the line at making someone the subject of a photo.

If I took a photo of somebody in portrait mode and he/she was fully identifiable and crystal clear, without his/her permision, OK that feels more intrusive and unethical. But you're being a paranoid idiot if you are flipping out on being a anonymous figure in a street/building shot (especially when the twerp who threatened me most likely had better recordings and images taken of him hundreds of times over by CCTV and personal cameras throughout the afternoon).

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If I took a photo of somebody in portrait mode and he/she was fully identifiable and crystal clear, without his/her permision, OK that feels more intrusive and unethical. But you're being a paranoid idiot if your your flipping out on being a anonymous figure in a street/building shot (especially when the twerp who threatened me most likely had better recordings and images taken of him hundreds of times over by CCTV and personal cameras throughout the afternoon).

If you're an anonymous figure then you're not the subject of the photo. As for the CCTV, that bothers me a lot more since it's deliberately intrusive ("you're being watched").

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I don't understand why people are afraid of others taking photos of buildings, etc. It might be a terrorist but it probably isn't. Also there's nothing to stop said 'terrorist' using their brain to remember any relevant information rather than taking a photo of it. Or studying equivalent photos online, etc., etc.

Well an author described in his book a Chicago location so vividly and accurately, some wary person from the Chicago police contacted and challenged the author how he got such accurate information and author said it was Google Earth.

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If you're an anonymous figure then you're not the subject of the photo. As for the CCTV, that bothers me a lot more since it's deliberately intrusive ("you're being watched").

Yes, but I made the mistake of taking out a camera and recording in front of somebody unhinged, and that flipped out the chimp troop part of his brain.

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Remember taking a few snaps of a parking bay on my street in order to appeal a ticket a few years ago and a neighbour(who I had never previously met) in a passing car stopped and got a bit arsey with me for possibly taking a picture which may or may not have had their car in it, citing 'security risks'. I explained what I was doing then there was a sort of terse standoff where I though he was actually going to get out of the car(a Defender done out in a Friesian cow paintjob) but thankfully common sense prevailed and knucklehead drove off. Nice to meet you, neighburrito!

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Had a lovely aged friend who bought an underwater compact camera for his 60th wedding anniversary cruise to the Caribbean. It was their first hollday ever abroad and he was going snorkelling !

He wanted to test the camera and he tried in the bath but couldn't get both his head and camera underwater at the same time. So he went to the local swimming pool with a face mask and snorkel, swam to the bottom and snapped a few pictures of rather large ladies swimming overhead - before he ran out of breath and was escorted from the premises !

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Remember taking a few snaps of a parking bay on my street in order to appeal a ticket a few years ago and a neighbour(who I had never previously met) in a passing car stopped and got a bit arsey with me for possibly taking a picture which may or may not have had their car in it, citing 'security risks'. I explained what I was doing then there was a sort of terse standoff where I though he was actually going to get out of the car(a Defender done out in a Friesian cow paintjob) but thankfully common sense prevailed and knucklehead drove off. Nice to meet you, neighburrito!

Don't suppose the idiot managed to say precisely what security risks?

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Had a lovely aged friend who bought an underwater compact camera for his 60th wedding anniversary cruise to the Caribbean. It was their first hollday ever abroad and he was going snorkelling !

He wanted to test the camera and he tried in the bath but couldn't get both his head and camera underwater at the same time. So he went to the local swimming pool with a face mask and snorkel, swam to the bottom and snapped a few pictures of rather large ladies swimming overhead - before he ran out of breath and was escorted from the premises !

Sounds like my dad! :wacko:

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Well an author described in his book a Chicago location so vividly and accurately, some wary person from the Chicago police contacted and challenged the author how he got such accurate information and author said it was Google Earth.

Part of our street is not on google streetview. I assume cos of the **** with the fancy stickered cars. He's told us that he doesn't want people to know where he lives cos he had trouble where he used to live. I assume cos of his noisy twatty cars (Admitedly he got rid of the really noisy one a while ago, but his driving style is such I know when his car is on the street.)

He backs his car right up to his gates at night - I've always assumed so no one can see his plates. Paranoid behaviour?

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It's anti-photography hysteria. Since when has a camera been illegal? There's one in my phone. It used to be a normal hobby that most people did.

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Don't suppose the idiot managed to say precisely what security risks?

No, I got the impression it was just something to say. I wasn't really interested in finding out! Don't think his low profile vehicle made the photos anyway. I think the fact it was an SLR with a biggish sized lens pointing vaguely in his direction made him stop, I guess if it was a phone camera he may not have even noticed or been bothered. SLRs seem all the more conspicuous these days- if you really were interested in doing some surreptitious snappery of nearby subjects an SLR would be the last thing you would want to use for many reasons.

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No, I got the impression it was just something to say. I wasn't really interested in finding out! Don't think his low profile vehicle made the photos anyway. I think the fact it was an SLR with a biggish sized lens pointing vaguely in his direction made him stop, I guess if it was a phone camera he may not have even noticed or been bothered. SLRs seem all the more conspicuous these days- if you really were interested in doing some surreptitious snappery of nearby subjects an SLR would be the last thing you would want to use for many reasons.

Aye. You can buy buttonhole cameras from Maplin for spying. An SLR is more for "professional" photography, even if it is only a hobby

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