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.
21 thoughts on “Hungary Passes Law Barring Photos Of Anyone In Public Without Their Consent”
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The paparazzi are quite intrusive, and so are these cameras. Should everyone walk around in ninja garb when in public? Look how many people are besmirched on the net with altered pictures and etc. If people had common courtesy to begin with, they wouldn’t need these laws. Cameras put you in a box, a frame, and shared with the world. Privacy is a necessity, such as climate, enrichment, and etc. Never mind public/private settings–we all can’t just sit in our homes 24/7. None of you complain when audio recordings require permission. When people act like children, society/culture is forced to treat them as such.
This seems to be nearly unenforceable, and yet it leaves “selective enforcement” as an option perhaps to attack politically motivated actions?
How does this law affect journalists? It would seem to make taking news video also illegal. With the pocket technology we have now, really we should be moving toward giving all citizens the rights of journalists instead of imposing more restrictions.
Is it possible that as a former communist state, Warsaw Pact member, and subject of a bloody repressive Soviet invasion in 1956, the government of Hungary might be responding to concerns by its citizenry concerning the surveillance of citizens’ public activity? There is a history there, after all, which might lead to a degree of sensitivity that we in the United States might not feel.
Do our Drones count….. Like the two party consent…. But what about crooked government official….
This is really bad news. I was just planning a trip to Hungary later this year. At least now I know that I had better be careful when snapping photos with my camera.
david, I doubt you will have any problem since the law is more directed at political opponents than at tourists. Though you should be careful about taking photos of troops or police or other strategic places. When I was in Romania in 1984, I had to be quite careful since it was a total Stalinist regime, and could not get any shots of Sibu since there were so many troops around that I could not get a shot without getting them in the picture. It is a very picturesque town and I wanted some nice photos, but I had to pass.
If I do not use my wife or a relative, I always ask permission and I tell them why I would like them in the picture. However, I never take crowd scenes 🙂 BTW, I have never been refused.
I would not be the least bit surprised to see lobbying for such a law in the US. CAFO operations have already tried to make it illegal to take pictures of their operations from the air or on the ground.
So, taking a photograph in a public place in Hungary, if there is a very recently born baby on a hill twenty miles distant that will be in the photograph (never mind that the infant would not be as large as one grain of a photographic emulsion or one pixel in a digital image) is inescapably illegal, because the baby is incapable of giving informed consent?
I have long had a sickening feeling that the total realm of all possible human stupidity may be vastly greater than infinitely infinite.
Hungary is slipping off the edge. As mentioned above this type of restriction is there to stop or slow the use of social media in demonstrations and to give police even more unchecked power.
I really hate to see what is happening in Hungary now because I have been there many times and loved the place and people. It was nominally communist at the time, but it was an almost free country for most people in their daily lives. Once when I crossed the border, there were Hungarian refugees returning back home from Canada. They were astounded and could not believe that it had changed so much and was so free and open compared to what they had left.
I’ve also heard that Hungary is slipping toward fascism. That would be truly awful, it’s a gorgeous country with wonderful people. My family as deep roots in Hungary and Croatia. They held a revolt against Russia in 1956, incredibly brave of them. I wonder what’s going on there now.
People who are not very deep thinkers believe photographing people in public is an invasion of privacy. The rule, for any NORMAL society is quite basic. Anything or anybody in public, IS PUBLIC. Anyone in a private home, is private. The Soviet Union had draconian rules for photos in public. In just a few words this basic concept is stated.
That would have put me outta business.
As Len pointed out, the real reason for this is to prevent documentation of abuse by the police and fascist gangsters. The law will be applied selectively, and Hungary is sliding to fascism now. This will facilitate that. Freedom will be dead in Hungary soon, if it is not already. The EU needs to take action against Hungary more than it needs to worry about Putin.
I am willing to be a state legislator in the US will attempt to follow Hungary’s lead.
Total BS! Some African tribes were respected in the early days due to thinking the picture took their soul, so you might ask in that case & some would move away while others did not care. But what about all these automatic cameras? The world is going bonkers & certain governments are putting these insanities into law. Refuse to accept such I say.
“Most importantly, it will sharply curtail those who want to record abuses or social unrest in public”.
And there lies the real reason for laws such as these !!!
This seems to me to be a law that will end up being selectively enforced, a.k.a. a “tool law” that police will use and in this case those using the civil process for money or retribution.
It is not certainly workable from a practical point of view in that it is akin to a five lane freeway where everyone is driving 10 over but the state patrol catches one or two that are either easily apprehended or they are suspicious of a particular vehicle and want to check it out.
Nevertheless it is a badly constructed law in many ways.
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