In line with the recent video that has gone viral and many others we have seen in the last few years, the question that arises in mind is, can someone film me without my permission in public? Well, there is no straight answer to this. Today’s discussion is two equally fundamental and essential yet potentially conflicting rights, Freedom of Expression and the Right to Privacy!

The law in this matter is left open to interpretation, which means there is no black and white response. Video record someone is an entirely subjective matter; taking a video of someone without permission could be okay if you are doing it to call them out or shooting it in defence of something wrong. However, the common courtesy in this matter prevails. At all times, any individual can rightly expect reasonable privacy.

The loose ends of this matter have left us with a lot of ambiguity, so here is our attempt to make it a little clearer for you.

Is it legal to record someone in public? When is it okay to record someone?

Generally, people think that when you are in a public arena, you can have absolutely no expectation of the right to privacy, and that is not entirely true. Think of a public bathroom; people cannot shoot a video; you can still expect privacy in a public bathroom. On the contrary, imagine you are in a store; it is a business place, technically a private space open for the public, so of course, you can shoot videos or photos, but if the owners ask you to stop, you STOP! 

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 Now just because someone is in a public place, you cannot video record someone or take a picture and do whatever you want with that video recording. People have the right not to be identified. You cannot disclose any private information about that person just because they were out in public doing something. (Eg: Making commercial news of a person)

Is it legal to video record someone? Do we have any laws for or against it?

Well, the legality of this depends on the situation. To date, we do not have any specific laws for or against it; these incidents are too fact-dependent, too jurisdictional dependent, too applicable law dependent for anybody to give you a specific legal response. However, there are inclusive laws regarding video recording in the Indian Evidence Act, Information Technology Act, and others but nothing that can directly govern the act.

We ran a poll to know what do people, in general, think about this; 57% of people believe that there must be laws/guidelines issued to regulate capturing videos on a trivial matter that puts someone in a bad light. 36% of voters thought the matter was heavily subjective, and only 7% believed that there was no need for it.

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Our word

Video recording someone may sometimes seem like the best thing to do, but we need to consider common courtesy while doing so. The video of a child that recently went viral for not wearing a mask had a mixed response. Many people took it to Twitter, asking if it was necessary to take a video of a minor and post it online. Things could have worked up in a better way if the concern had been taken to his parents first. Virality on trivial matters can sometimes be traumatising, especially if it reveals your identity. So think before you shoot! 

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Author: Shweta Singh