Tuesday, February 11, 2014 - Almanac Vol. 60, No. 22
Photo and Video Privacy Issues
The ability of millions of people to take photos and videos on personal mobile devices and spread them globally is a reality today worth pondering. Consider this in light of famous quotes from a time well before this capability was in place:
- A picture paints a thousand words. (Frederick Barnett, 1921)
- With great power comes great responsibility. (Voltaire, published 1832)
Now that so many of us have the technological power to take and spread photos and videos, which can tell us quite a lot about the people involved, we consider what it means to do so responsibly. Opinions differ widely - some resting on First Amendment rights, some on the Golden Rule and many in between.
At Penn, several offices have taken on a discrete component of this topic, focused on guidance to Penn's communications professionals on privacy issues in taking photos and videos as part of their job function. The guidance describes that there are no "one size fits all" rules about using photos and videos. Indeed, this area is highly context sensitive, turning on how public or private the setting is, the individuals involved, how identifiable the individuals are and the intended use of the images.
The guidance explains that there is greater latitude in capturing and disseminating photos and videos in public spaces, of public figures and for newsworthy purposes. It also describes that in many other cases, there is a need for caution and often special notice or permission, for example when capturing images of:
- identifiable students particularly when the FERPA (federal student privacy) law is involved;
- children and other vulnerable populations;
- sensitive-topic large gatherings, such as events where political, identity or health concerns are central;
- hospitals and healthcare settings;
- classroom environments, particularly when recordings will be posted publicly and/or
- images that will be used for commercial purposes.
The guidance also covers the value of using a photo management system that documents the rights, both in terms of privacy permissions and copyrights, to use and disclose photos and videos.
For more information or questions or comments about this guidance, contact University Communications at firstname.lastname@example.org or Penn's Privacy Office at email@example.com