Imagine this: you are about to pay at the grocery store, but a stranger comes up and irons their card instead.
Or you walk down the street and someone you have never met asks you to hold a speaker for them while they go to the toilet – the next moment the music blares from the stereo and the owner is nowhere to be seen.
The situations may seem strange, but these actions are increasingly orchestrated with a camera nearby that captures reactions to be shared on social media.
So even if the stranger did not ask if they could use this recording, can it really be shared online?
Does anyone need my permission to film me?
If you’re in a public place, no.
According to Barbara McDonald, a professor at the University of Sydney Law School, there is no law against filming another person in public.
This is because there is no law in Australia that protects your privacy as an individual.
“If I’m just an ordinary person, then it’s hard to say that privacy is protected,” says Professor McDonald.
What if I do not want it on social media?
This is what happened to a woman from Melbourne this week when she found out that a video posted without her consent of a man leaving her flowers collected 57 million views and 10.9 million likes.
If a video recorded in a public place without your consent is posted online, there is not much you can do in a legal sense unless the video is defamatory or is considered commercial.
However, there are a few steps you can take that are not guaranteed to yield results, such as asking the person who posted it to remove the footage, or you can report it to the social media platform.
What if someone makes money on these footage?
Professor McDonald says that according to our law on “approval”, the person participating in the recordings must have a commercial reputation in order to be protected.
“If it’s just an ordinary person, it’s harder,” she says.
Submission protects business owners who do not have registered trademarks from undue misrepresentation of their products or services.
Here is an example from Professor McDonald to explain a commercial reputation:
“If you had a cafe and you took a picture of Ash Barty outside, it could be very clear that you just posted this and that she’s just there smiling and very happy to be photographed at your cafe , “Professor McDonald says.
“On the other hand, if you started saying ‘Ash Barty thinks our coffee is wonderful’, you’re starting to make it sound like she’s approved your product, which is another thing, and it’s getting more complicated. “It’s one with a commercial reputation.”
I took a video of someone I do not know and would like to share it online, can I?
If you want to post the footage, make sure it does not defame anyone and that you do not use confidential material, says Professor McDonald.
“In general, defamation is the biggest risk of setting up a film of someone – if it degrades them or portrays them in a very bad light that makes others think less about them, then it can be very problematic,” says Professor McDonald.
“It’s very easy to slander people.”
Other than that, you can legally, so it’s up to your discretion.
What is considered a public place?
Professor McDonald says that a public place is everywhere where you can move freely.
These are all considered public places:
- football stadiums
- shopping malls
So if you are in a crowded stadium and watching football, there is a good chance that you can find yourself in the background of a picture.
However, there are some places that may have access conditions.
“if you go to a private restaurant, the condition may be that people do not use their mobile phones because the restaurant wants it to be a place where people can come freely and not feel like they are being posted on other people’s social media, “says Dr. McDonald.