Photographs and the DPA
I was nearing the end of a lovely weekend away with myÂ fiancÃ©Â when the data protection act came up. Â Sadly my day off quickly turned into me almost leading another training session.
We decided to go and have a skate on the ice at a Yorkshire leisure centre on the way home from our hotel. Â My girlfriend has been watching ITV on a Sunday evening and thought we could giveÂ Jennifer Ellison & Daniel WhistonÂ a run for their money. Â Everything was going fairly well. Â We weren’t as good as we hoped, but neither of us had ended up flat out on the ice either.
We decided a couple of pictures to document the occasion would be nice, so to ensure we followed the published rules, my girlfriend came off the ice to take some snaps, while I did my best to skate past; looking like a pro. Â On the second fly by, we wereÂ interruptedÂ by a rink marshall, stating that loose items were not allowed on the ice. Â To which we obviously pointed out that the loose item (the camera) was off the ice.
“There are a number of signs which state no photography allowed” – This is not true. Â There are four signs which state “Loose items may not be taken on the ice (mobiles, bags etc.)” which is the closest rule we could find to which he might have used in his favour.
“Thing is we have some kids parties here today, and for data protection reasons you can’t take photos” – At this point I explained that unfortunately this was a DPA myth, and we were allowed to take pictures for personal use. Â Although the rink is private property, it is open to the public. Â As explained in this interesting article in photography monthly, property owners may refuse the right to take pictures, but without proper signage how would we know?
Not convinced by his opinion, the marshal decided to suggest that it wasn’t his decision, and we decided not to make his day more difficult than it needed to be. Â The final published rule was “failure to follow a marshals instruction, may lead to being asked to leave the ice”; a great catch all. Â If he had have been convinced of his training, would he have asked us to remove the images we’d already taken?
JISC has some excellent adviceÂ on how and when a picture could be protected under the DPA.
Â The courts have determined that photographs and images of people areÂ capableÂ of being personal data (the case ofÂ Durant v Financial ServicesÂ ). Where the name and image of a person are linked – or are capable of being linked – then the person can be identified and the image should be regarded as personal data.
Clearly I had noÂ informationÂ about the other ice skaters attending on that day. Â I had no way of knowing who they were and therefore the act does not seem to apply.
It stillÂ irksÂ me that these organisations are still making mistakes with regard to the DPA, and seemingly passing thatÂ misinformationÂ to their staff. Â Or at least people are getting away with mentioning the act to try and excuse their internal policy.
The DPA was created in the internets infancy. Â Surely it is time to revisit this act and apply it to more recent technology? Â For example when a friend of mine takes an image of me and uploads it to facebook. Â It will attempt to tag me (assuming we are also friends on facebook). Â As soon as that association is complete, the image falls within the data protection act. Â As a result, I’ve ensured that I have to confirm all tags on my facebook profile, even the ones my fiancÃ©Â creates!
Have you ever been approached and asked not to take pictures? Has anyone asked you to remove the images? Has the DPA changed and I’ve missed theÂ announcement? Â Why not let me know below.