Who’s watching you?

In April, I wrote a post entitled When did going out in public mean you’ve signed your rights away? It was about people surreptitiously taking photos of others and posting them online.

Today’s Age has an article about professional artists and photographers who are making a living from this type of thing. Who’s watching you? discusses the ethics of this type of behaviour, but basically states

Simply by leaving our homes – private only to the extent that Google Earth is limited in its reach below our eaves – we give our permission to be watched.

Do we really? Is the alternative a life of a hermit? What happens to those people (and there are some, believe me) that haven’t even heard of Google Earth, let alone what it does? How can they give permission when they aren’t even fully aware of how their picture can be distributed instantly and globally?

I’m all for taking pictures and sharing them. I loved the instance earlier this year when students took a photo of their bus driver talking on a mobile phone and putting their lives at risk. The evidence in the photo led to actions against the bus driver that would never have happened on hearsay alone. The pictures weren’t published but shown to school and bus authorities.

But I think we need to be morally aware of sharing and publishing photos of people who are unaware of their photo being taken. Or those who refuse permission. We need to have some boundaries in our lives. If we don’t take pictures of ourselves and upload them, why should somebody else make that decision for us?

I’d love to hear your comments.

When did going out in public mean you’ve signed your rights away?

A few weeks ago I attended a convention where stars from the Harry Potter films attended. While the photo sessions were being conducted, attendees were asked to participate on stage in fun and games. While they were on stage, I saw via the convention’s Twitter stream that the audience were taking photos of those on stage and posting them to Twitter.

When I got home I tweeted the question “does going out in public these days mean you’ve agreed to have your image taken, uploaded and shared?” I am pretty sure that the people being photographed didn’t know that their images were being published and commented on by people across the globe.

I got one response from @LivAnon pointing me towards this wiki:


I’m not really sure if this answers my question as it doesn’t really refer to the plethora and ease of online publishing, but I do think that this whole area needs to be addressed.

I feel that if someone is going to publish your photo, they should ask permission. In fact, through the #vicpln group last year, one of the Elluminate session persevered explained that it is not only students/parents who we should seek permission from when publishing photos, but everyone.

However, when I went to the Supanova convention a few weekends ago, this sign spelled out clearly what could occur during the event:


I thought it was a great idea to have these signs around, because upon entering the convention, you had the choice to continue on in and accept the conditions, or turn around and go home if you didn’t.

With iPhones and the like these days, pictures can be taken, uploaded and shared within seconds. I think we all have to rethink this automatic sharing, particularly the sharing of personal images. The sign at Supanova made it quite clear that this might occur and I was happy with that. I’d been warned and made my decision to enter. But I don’t think that going out in public does mean you’ve signed your rights away the minute you step out of the front door.

Photo scandal provides teachable moment

Yesterday’s Australian Football League nude photo scandal provides teachers with a “teachable moment” for their students.

We know that once a photo is taken, it can only take seconds for it to be uploaded and published to the internet and for the world to see. We must teach our students that:

  • If you are not happy to pose for a photo then DON’T.
  • If your photo was taken against your wishes, ask for it to be deleted and ask to check the camera that it has in fact been deleted (check trash as well).
  • Be aware that something done in jest may not seem so funny later on. Having it deleted from multiple sources is not as easy for individuals as it is for organisations like the AFL.
  • Any photo that you wouldn’t like your grandparents to see may be a photo that shouldn’t exist. Think twice before you pose for or take a photo that could be embarrassing to you or to others.
  • Remember that any photo can be published. Even if your Facebook settings are private, or your tweets are protected, your “friends” can pass it on.
  • Once a photo has been published, even if it is deleted later, others may have copied and kept it or republished it themselves.
  • Don’t publish or email photos of your friends without their permission.

The repercussions of a moment of silliness may last a lot longer and have ramifications that it is difficult to foresee.