If you have been in a situation where you have been filmed whilst dealing with a sensitive incident only to find that the footage has been uploaded to YouTube without your consent, then what can you do?
We have recently seen many examples of so-called civilian ‘auditors’ appearing at crime scenes or road traffic collisions to record members of the emergency services.
This can be distressing for both the emergency workers and other individuals – such as victims, witnesses or informants – who have had a camera pointed at them.
For example, we have heard from emergency workers who have dealt with the aftermath of stabbings or serious incidents where crime scenes have been put in place, appearing in YouTube videos that seem to have the purpose of undermining their work.
Equally, there have been many examples of emergency workers being goaded by so-called civilian ‘auditors’ with the sole intention of uploading the footage to their YouTube channel.
The footage is then often captioned with titles and thumbnails such as ‘PC Bully Boy’, ‘C U Next Tuesday [followed by a shoulder/collar number]’, ‘PC Weirdo’ or other terms or phrases that appear to encourage viewers to verbally abuse, bully and berate the emergency worker who has appeared in the video unwillingly.
This can cause a great deal of emotional upset to the emergency worker in the video and the close relatives of the emergency worker.
If you are a police officer, then it could also potentially jeopardise your career if, for example, you want to join a covert unit at a later date.
But what can you do?
Aside from the relevant law that applies to such scenarios, if you find yourself appearing on social media and you have not consented to the footage appearing online, then you can submit a privacy complaint to YouTube.
Generally speaking, YouTube is very good at ensuring that anyone who appears on their platform does so in a way that does not result in anyone being bullied.
Regarding their Privacy Complaint Process, YouTube states on their website:
‘We want you to feel safe when you’re on YouTube, which is why we encourage you to let us know if videos or comments on the site violate your privacy or sense of safety, including if you have been recorded without your knowledge in private or sensitive circumstances.
‘We understand that you may not feel comfortable with all content that features you on YouTube, so we’ve created this process to help you submit a privacy complaint. Please ensure that you are uniquely identifiable within the content you seek to report before proceeding with the Privacy Complaint Process’.
‘Sensitive circumstances’ can, quite clearly, include dealing with the sort of incidents that emergency workers deal with daily. But it can also potentially include situations where amateur Vloggers attempt to try and make a mockery of you with the aim of encouraging others to do the same.
Note also that YouTube’s Privacy Complaint Process specifically includes comments on videos that ‘violate your privacy or sense of safety‘.
So if you wake up from your rest period to find that you have unwittingly featured in a video that has been uploaded to YouTube in any of the circumstances above, then you CAN and SHOULD do something about it.
On their website, YouTube also adds:
‘If someone has posted your personal information or uploaded a video of you without your consent, start by contacting the uploader and asking them to remove the content.
‘If you can’t reach an agreement with the uploader, or if you are uncomfortable contacting them, you can request removal of content based on our Privacy Guidelines’.
Matthew Smith, Partner in the Public Sector Services practice at Plexus Law, commented:
“Historically, rights to privacy under English law were very limited.
“However, this is now a rapidly developing area of law with civil actions under human rights legislation, for misuse of private information and under data protection legislation becoming ever more common.
“A person’s image is recognised as personal data for the purposes of current data protection laws, but the legislation does not restrict an individual from uploading footage in a personal capacity.
“An action for defamation or misuse of private information may lie against such an individual in certain circumstances, however.
“To date, social media companies have sought to absolve themselves from responsibility by maintaining that they merely provide a “platform” for other individuals to publish data, rather than themselves being the publisher, but this stance is currently under attack and in addition the government is currently seeking to impose prescriptive standards upon the industry through further legislation.
“Social media companies are increasingly being required to ensure that they have proper systems in place to respond to requests for removal of material.”
To find out more about YouTube’s Privacy Complaint Process, then click HERE.
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