Is it illegal in the UK to videotape someone without their consent?

On average, Londoners are caught on camera about 300 times a day in the capital.

This is the highest figure in the UK, largely due to surveillance cameras. But is it illegal to record someone without their consent?

Privacy laws when taking pictures are often misunderstood


Privacy laws when taking pictures are often misunderstoodPhoto credit: Getty

Is it illegal in the UK to videotape someone without their consent?

It is not illegal in the UK to film someone in public, even if you do so without their consent.

However, some areas that you might consider public are privately owned, such as restaurants, hotels, shopping malls, and even soccer fields.

These are all private places.

Whenever a person visits a private place like a restaurant, they enjoy a reasonable expectation of privacy.

This rule also applies to crowded places.

According to Center for Internet Lawfilming someone who expects their experience to remain private could be unlawful.

This also includes major events.

The Legal Center said: “The privacy element may be limited to the company of a select group of people, so you might be attending an event with 500 people and still expect your presence to remain private among that group of people.

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“Also, while someone may consent to being filmed for private use, you could still violate their privacy if you then upload their video to YouTube.”

Is it forbidden to photograph people in public?

People can take photos in all public places.

This includes photos of people for journalistic, editorial, or artistic purposes, as long as they do not harass the public to obtain the photos.

Under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997you may be prosecuted if you threaten, stalk, intimidate or distress someone in order to obtain a photograph.

You also need to be careful that the location where you are taking these pictures is definitely a public space, as many areas that you might think are public are actually private property.

For example, many shopping malls, museums, art galleries, public attractions, churches, etc. are on private property and you need permission from the property owner to take photos at these locations, otherwise it could be considered trespassing.

In general, trespassing is a civil matter. So if you don’t have permission to take photos, the worst case scenario is that the landowner will tell you to stop taking photos and leave the property.

What can you do if someone records you without your consent?

You can ask the person for a copy of the recording if you wish, but there’s really only one viewpoint depending on where it happened.

As mentioned, you can expect a certain level of privacy outside of a public place.

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However, if the recording was made in a public place, there is no legal standpoint to protect you.

It all boils down to the person recording the content, and if you have particular problems appearing in the footage, you can ask them to redact you. Is it illegal in the UK to videotape someone without their consent?

Fry Electronics Team

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