The law against publishing pictures without consent

Judith Thompson  17-11-2023

Photographs and images of people are created on a daily basis, with far more being produced today than ever in human history. With this deluge of images, comes increased opportunities for those images to be abused, and for harm to be caused to individuals who have done nothing wrong.

The law is catching up, and there are now ways in which you can claim compensation if images of you are abused. 


Someone took a picture of me without my consent

If images have been taken of you without your knowledge or permission, this could be a breach of your privacy. If you were in a public place, such as a shop or in the street, it is very unlikely that you could claim that your privacy had been breached, as it is difficult to argue that you have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such places. 

However, if you were in a place where you do have a reasonable expectation of privacy when the image was taken, then you could well have a claim for compensation against the person who has taken the image. 

There have been extreme cases of secret images being taken of people in private places including bathrooms and changing rooms, using covert surveillance equipment. In those cases, huge damages have recently been awarded to the victims. 

Other examples of breaching your privacy would be taking pictures of you without your consent, if you are in your own home, in another person's private residence, in hospital or another medical setting, or in an office or other work space which is not open to the public. 


What to do if someone posted a picture of you without your permission on social media

In other cases, someone may have taken a photo of you without consent, and posted it on social media. Whether you will be able to bring a claim, will depend upon where you were when the photograph was taken and whether you gave your consent for it to be taken.

In many cases, it is advisable to report the misuse of your images to the platform where they have been published, as each social media platform has a mechanism for reporting this type of abusive behaviour.

However, it is important that you take screenshots of the abusive images first, so that you can also pursue a claim for damages, once the images have been removed. 


Sharing private images without consent 

Probably the most damaging type of image based abuse is when someone shares private images of you, which could involve nudity or engaging in sexual acts, without your consent. If you have taken images of yourself, and shared them with someone else on the condition that they do not share them with anyone else, if those images are then shared, you should be able to claim compensation. 

If the images were not taken by you, provided that you were clear that they could not be shared with anyone else, again you would be able to claim compensation. 

If someone puts private images of you on a pornographic site, which they make money from, the damages you can claim would be potentially very high indeed. 

This type of case has traditionally be referred to as "revenge porn" but judges have recently suggested that a better term would be "image based abuse". 

In some cases, you may be blackmailed by someone who has private images of you, threatening to share the images with family or friends, or posting the images online. In these cases, criminal offences will have been committed and you should report the matter to the police. 


How to start a claim for sharing my private images

If private images of you have been shared without your consent, you may well be able to bring a claim for damages. The first step you need to take is to preserve carefully evidence of the breaches which have taken place. This is something that we can help you with, if you need us to,.

It is important that you seek the advice of an expert solicitor as quickly as possible, to find out what your rights are, whether the matter should also be reported to the police, and whether you can claim compensation for the harm which has been caused to you. Contact us today to find out how we can help. 

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