In a familiar scenario to all parents you are at your child’s Saturday morning soccer game when you see the other team’s parent taking photos of your children and filming. You haven’t given permission for them to take photos or film your children, can they do this without your permission?
It is not illegal for people to take photos of your children in public places without your permission.
There is no right to privacy that forbids people from taking a person’s photograph whilst on public property. In fact, you can take photos of someone in their house or backyard, so long as you do not trespass onto their private property. If someone on the street is taking a photograph, as long as they are not physically trespassing, there is no law that prevents that.
Can You Take Photos or Videos on Private Property?
Similarly, if you are on private property it is illegal to take pictures or film without permission. On private property owners have the right to impose restrictions on any photography. Taking photos or filming on private property without permission is illegal. Many sporting venues are private property, even if they are owned by local council or other government organisations. These places can make rules that ban people from photographing or recording any part of the space or the people within it.
Whilst there are some laws contained in the Criminal Code 1899 (Qld) governing the photography of children, these laws are aimed at protecting children from the production and distribution of indecent or obscene material.
Are there Circumstances where photos can’t be taken?
In Queensland, there is no law which affords rights to an individual’s personal privacy. Accordingly, unless the circumstances fall within one of the few exceptions listed below, it is perfectly legal for a stranger to take a photo of your child without your permission.
- Private Property
- Indecent Material
- Personal Information
It is illegal to take photos or film on private property without the permission of the property owner. Accordingly, if you are the owner of private property, you can impose restrictions on other people who enter your property regarding the use of photography and can ban them from taking photos of your children.
Restrictions on photography also extend to other areas of private property including sporting venues. These places can make rules that ban people from photographing or recording any part of the space or the people within it.
However, this exception of private property does not apply if you and your children are on your private property but the person taking the photos or filming are on a neighbouring property or on the street. The person taking the photos must be on your private property for it to be illegal. If they are not on your property, they are considered to be taking the photos in a public space and there are no laws which prevent this.
There are a number of laws in the Queensland Criminal Code 1899 which prevent the photographing and recording of children, even with their or their parents’ permission. Photographs and recordings which would be illegal under these laws include:
- Explicit and suggestive photographs of children;
- Sexual and naked photographs of children; and
- Photographs of children taken in a place where they would reasonably be afforded privacy such as a public changing room or toilet.
Whilst we do not have personal privacy rights in Queensland, there are some laws which aim to protect our personal Information. The Privacy Act 1988 provides that photos which allow the identity of a person to be determined should not be published without first obtaining the consent of that person, or of that child’s parent or guardian. Photos of a child which may allow them to be identified include:
- showing the child in their school uniform;
- showing their name; or
- showing them in front of their house or school.
However, this exception is generally limited to businesses and organisations and will not extend to persons who have taken and published the photo in their personal capacity.
Unfortunately, unless the situation falls within one of these exceptions, it is perfectly legal for a stranger to take a photo of your child without obtaining your permission.
But what if the material isn’t obscene?
The Summary Offence Act 2005 (Qld) offers limited protection from people photographing others in public, however, the conduct of the photograph must be “offensive” or “threatening” and be likely to interfere with the enjoyment of a public place. This may have some application to someone openly photograph children in a public place, it may not apply where the filming was concealed.
What can I do to protect my children?
Concerns about unauthorised images have exploded with the ease and availability of online publication.
Approach your local sporting venues to find out how that organisation regulates photography on their premises, if they do not have a current policy in place suggest that they may want to implement one.
When posting photos of your child or other children on social media ask yourself – How am I making this photo identifiable?
- Who might be able to see these photos?
- Is there anyone else in this photo? Someone people may not want their image to be published.
- Are there any identifying details in the photo? Including personal information such as your child’s name, school, location, etc.
When uploading photos and videos check your privacy settings on social media. You may want to put privacy settings on any social media platform to restrict access to photographs and information about any child to family and close friends.