We have been following police in this country and abroad arresting people for taking public photographs, including police in England. Now Hungary has passed a law that make photographing people in public a violation of the civil code. When taking a picture for example at a landmark, you must get the consent of anyone who happens to be in the shot even if you have no intention to publish the picture. It is a good thing that this picture of the Siege of Eger was painted in 1552 — a photograph would have resulted in a slew of lawsuits.
The Justice Ministry has warned people to look out for anyone “who are not waving, or who are trying to hide or running out of shot”. The law would seem to require pre-consent but it is ambiguous. Thus, photojournalists do not know if they have to run and get consent from everyone as a scene before snapping a shot — a rather difficult task in capturing news events. Even judges are reportedly saying that they are being flooded with cases (under the prior rule from judicial rulings) without a clear idea of the standard. The law codifies the earlier judicial rulings on consent.
The new law adds to the equally bizarre rule that, if you photograph a police officer in public, you must obscure or pixelate his face.
Lawyers expect that the law will now result in a virtual avalanche of lawsuits.
It will also presumably create a chilling effect on tourists who now must avoid any person in the foreground or background of a shot to avoid a lawsuit.
Most importantly, it will sharply curtail those who want to record abuses or social unrest in public.
The law appears both ill-conceived and poorly drafted. The implications for citizens and tourists alike are chilling.