Cameras Everywhere Report 2011 - Key Challenge
Privacy and Safety
It is clear that new technologies, particularly the mobile phone, have made it simpler for human rights defenders and others to record and report violations, but harder for them to do so securely. The ease of copying, tagging and circulating images over a variety of platforms adds a layer of risk beyond an individual user’s control. All content and communications, including visual media, leave personal digital traces that third parties can harvest, link and exploit. Hostile governments, in particular, can use photo and video data – particularly that linked with social networking data–to identify track and target activists within their countries, facilitated by the growth of automatic face-detection and recognition software.
Without proactive policymaking, legislative or regulatory loopholes will be taken advantage of where they exist. Technology companies, for example, must ensure that their products, suppliers and services protect users’ privacy and data by default, and should place a greater focus on privacy by design.
It is alarming how little public discussion there is about visual privacy and anonymity. Everyone is discussing and designing for privacy of personal data, but almost no-one is considering the right to control one’s personal image or the right to be anonymous in a video-mediated world. The human rights community’s understanding of the importance of anonymity as an enabler of free expression must now develop a new dimension – the right to visual anonymity.