Sweden - prohibition of street photography

Discussion in 'Street and Documentary' started by vlado, May 30, 2013.

  1. "Sweden prohibits from 1 July all (covert) photography or film in the private sphere, even if the images are taken on the street, in the garden or for example during birthday parties at home.

    Such pictures are only allowed when the people in the photo or video have given their prior consent. The Swedish government has ratified the bill for this on Thursday (today). From July 1, anyone who photographs people in Sweden without asking for permission first is risking a fine or imprisonment (up to 2 years).

    Journalists and press photographers fear that the new law will be used to their watchdog function and thus curb press freedom. Formally, the law makes an exception for news, but according to the Swedish journalists union, the conditions are unclear.

    The Swedish government wants to prevent with this new photography law that the private lives of its citizens are just shared via internet, for example Twitter, Facebook and YouTube with everyone else. Also visually capturing and publishing harassment on the street is covered by the law."
    Fellas, meet you in jail!
     
  2. Vlad, "....birthday parties at home...."? If this is really true then the world is surely going nuts! Best find another hobby! Best, LM.
     
  3. If I google for this, I only find a lot of rumours about it from 2011, and one blog post from 2013 that completely contradicts it. All the other messages are from today, and have literally the same content as in the OP.... so I am wondering, what is the source?
    Because a law like this would be very against freedom of speech and press, things that usually do not go down all too well in European countries. It just sounds extremely unlikely to me, this news.
    [edit]
    Found this: http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=5549542
    I think what's hitting the internet now is probably being blown up to larger proportions, and the actual bill would be far more nuanced. If it's true, there is sure reason for concern, but I think a big chunk of important info is missing in the story that now goes around.
     
  4. Len - landscapes and macros (with no birthday party balloons) are still legal!
    Wouter, it's not about Sweden only, it's about trend. Google search is not helpful here.
     
  5. Vlad, sorry, how is Google search not helpful if I am looking for a real clear source about the content of this bill? Most of what I've found are forum postings copying the text you copied as well, without any reference or source. I'm looking for the source of this quote. Usually, google is highly useful for that.
    The trend.... in W-European countries... what trend? Nothing changed, if this Swedish bill is true, it would be a complete first. Otherwise, there are the usual outcries that things should be outlawed and so on, but no actual laws, no actual convictions by real courts.... just opinions and more opinions.
     
  6. It says (or rather you do) "covert". Street photography isn't covert unless you hide the camera. Neither is birthday party photography or most any other type of photography. Lots of places have laws against covert photography in public to stop perverts taking up skirt photos or hiding cameras in restaurant toilets. Nothing wrong with curbing covert photography and nothing to do with legitimate street photography either.
     
  7. Dan is correct. The key words in Wolter's article are "private space and location". I don't think it ought to be legal for someone with a long lens on a rooftop for example, to photograph my kids swimming in my back yard or my wife sunbathing. I think it ought to be illegal to shoot through the windows of my house to see me inside. I reject the "close the drapes" defense.
    We are loosing our privacy in a big way these days. I applaud Sweden for attempting to put limits on simply bad behavior. Could this have a chilling effect on photojournalism? I am a photojournalist and I can't imagine how. Not only does it not apply to journalists I have never in thousands of assignments shot through a window into someone's house or snapped them in a restroom.
    This is a tempest in a teapot.
     
  8. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    This post is about a law in Sweden, not what people think about privacy. If the law doesn't exist, then this post just becomes another echo chamber for rumormongers. Unless there is some proof that this law exists, there's no point in keeping it here.
    Google search is not helpful here.​
    You posted it, if Google doesn't have it, then please give a citation to the law itself.
     
  9. From Radio sweden

    New laws against photographing in private space

    Published: onsdag 29 maj kl 18:54, Radio Sweden


    "Parliament has approved a new law against violating photography, meaning that from July 1st it will be illegal to photograph or film someone while they are in their private space or in a location intended to be private, unless they have given their permission."
    Source: radio sweden announcement of yesterday. Hence, the law may not be published yet, so what?
    Google search is not helpful because question is about trend, not about swedish law only. And the trend is restrictions for street photography.
    With all respects, Vlad
     
  10. In "private space or in a location intended to be private" does not seem to include street photography as the OP title and text say.
    It hasn't turned up as of now on the Sveriges Radio site that I can find, either. An actual link would be helpful.
     
  11. "Parliament has approved a new law against violating photography, meaning that from July 1st it will be illegal to photograph or film someone while they are in their private space or in a location intended to be private, unless they have given their permission."​
    Vlad you may need to look up the English definition of the word "private." Most people do not consider the "street" in street photography to be private. If you are shooting from the street into the window of a private residence then yes most people would not approve of that even if some sickos on the internet think that is art. This law would have no effect on me. I have been able to create art and report the news without resorting to invading people's privacy or peeping through every partially cracked curtain.
    If a fruit vendor is standing on a street corner and you take a picture of them with a 50mm lens on a 35mm camera I don't think you will have any problems.
     
  12. Google search is not helpful because question is about trend, not about swedish law only. And the trend is restrictions for street photography.​
    1. You did not ask a question.
    2. What you quote is only about Swedish law, and your second quote is about something completely different than what you wrote in the OP. Read carefully, and read Rick M.'s post above. The second quote from the Swedish radio, incidentally the same link I posted, is not at all about street photography. Street photography is in the public space, not the private space. Huge difference.
    3. Which trend? Where are hard facts showing a trend that real restrictions are being placed on street photography? In which countries did they pass laws to forbid photography in the public space, did courts actually rule against photography in the public space? Facts?
    The only trend I see is people repeating that there are more and more restrictions on street photography without providing facts. In the meanwhile, street photography seems more alive than ever if I look around.
     
  13. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    "Parliament has approved a new law against violating photography, meaning that from July 1st it will be illegal to photograph or film someone while they are in their private space or in a location intended to be private,​

    Street photography is about photographing in public locations. Unless you can provide some link to a law that references your original title, you are just creating problems. This forum is not for dissemination of false information.
     
  14. Jeff Sudduth, sorry if my English hurt you, but why again we are discussing my English and not the trend?
    Again:
    Sweden prohibits from 1 July all (covert) photography or film in the private sphere, even if the images are taken on the street, in the garden or for example during birthday parties at home.
     
  15. Vlad, you posted a bunch of text and no link to back up what you are saying. As far as I am concerned until you post some proof from a solid source what you are posting in nonsense. A "private space" is not a street corner. I also so no references to birthday parties in your link. I did see this...
    However, there are exceptions to the rule. If the photograph was taken as part of newsgathering for instance, it could be permitted.​
    So if you are a photojournalist or a normal person (ie not a peeping Tom) you are fine.
     
  16. "Google search is not helpful here."

    Claims made on internet forums are?
     
  17. Has the OP been to W.Europe recently? Has he seen any restrictions or "trends"? I was on a cruise last year to Italy, France, Greece, Spain, Croatia, Portugal and Portugal's islands and had no problems whatsoever taking pictures in the streets, cafes, markets. On the island of Madeira I photographed school children playing in the schoolyard where the teachers saw me taking pictures. Nobody approached me and I saw no "trends".
    Has he seen any "trends" in Toronto where he lives? I've been there many times and had no problems taking pictures of cops. They even smiled at me asked my advice about cameras.
     
  18. That link for Radio Sweden is in English, doesn't count.
    And it still doesn't apply to street pictures (unless, as is clear enough) they are looking into a private space.
     
  19. Swedes ( and I apologise to any reading this) are a bit strange. They're a little like the Swiss.
    However, Swedes vote. So use your group power. Find Swedes on Flikr and recruit them to a protest account on Facebook.
    A bit of non-violent, dysfunctional protest action would not go astray. People are afraid to protest, but look at the freedoms most of us enjoy. Not much of it came without popular protest. Protesting now will produce law reform. When members of an elected government do over the populace, mount a high level protest at the electorate office of the politician that has law and order at their portfolio. Nothing focuses the mind of a politician more than a well-targeted campaign in the heart of their electorate, against his or her re-election.
     
  20. If I, as a swede, is strange or not I let other decide ;-). But here is fact about the new law. Three parts; private space,
    hidden or not aloud from the subject. If this is fullfilled it's looked upon as a offensive behaviour from the photographer
    and a crime. As far as I understand the law will not be a problem concerning streetphotography. At all.

    Here's a link explaining it. In swedish. Sorry.

    http://www.fotosidan.se/cldoc/lag-om-krankande-fotografering.htm
     
  21. And the Government's explanations concerning the proposal, where reference is made to similar laws in Denmark and Finland, still in Swedish:
    http://www.regeringen.se/sb/d/16768
     
  22. Thank you Bengt and Anders for clarification and links!
     
  23. tack så mycket :)
     
  24. :)) Med henvisning til det smukke svenske sprog
     
  25. Has the OP been to W.Europe recently? Has he seen any restrictions or "trends"? I was on a cruise last year to Italy, France, Greece, Spain, Croatia, Portugal and Portugal's islands and had no problems whatsoever taking pictures in the streets, cafes, markets. On the island of Madeira I photographed school children playing in the schoolyard where the teachers saw me taking pictures. Nobody approached me and I saw no "trends".​
    I wouldn't say so about the portuguese Law, that specifies what you can photograph or not as well the rules to use your images.
    According to these, you can photograph without the person's authorization when included within the images of public places, this means you shouldn't frame the person(s) in a way to come the "subject" or to be too evident within the frame.
    You are free to photograph but the protection of other people's rights to their image, "good name" and reputation, put the restrictions on the side of exhibition or publication of your photos, besides you can find a lot of street photography in the net and local forums and as much as I'm aware problems with the law are not common.
    Easier rules apply to images captured during public shows and events within public areas, as well as for journalists or the photographs of public figures in the exercise of their public activities (politics, sports, artists).
    Even if it went smoothly at Madeira (and it can be the same at other places) you shall be careful when it comes to children because the phobia of pedophilia tends now to be a global issue.
    I just read this post about the new swedish law but being a trend or not street photographers must pay attention to local laws and sensitivities as it has always been and evaluate the risks they are ready to run.
     
  26. Coming back to the Swedish Law on "intrusive" (kränkande) photography of people. The title of the OP, seems to me to be somewhat misleading: "prohibition of street photography". Street photography is in no way threatened by the law, as far as I can understand.
    The objective of the law is to protect personal integrity.
    The law forbids covert shooting of photos or videos from the outside (street, public area, or another private neighboring area) of people in-house in homes or other areas where privacy can be expected (public toilets, change rooms etc), without their prior agreement (already illegal) and secondly that the shooting is covert, because the camera is hidden or the person is unaware of being photographed because being at sleep, for example. If the person being photographed, clearly was aware of being photographed, then the photographer cannot be prosecuted under the law.
    The law does explicitly not concern professional photography in a context of news coverage.
    All very reasonable rules in the name of protecting personal integrity against intrusive photographers, as far as I can see.
     
  27. Vlad, I suppose some of the reaction your getting is created when you title a thread "Sweden - prohibition of street photography" Based on the what the facts seemed to be, the title is highly misleading. Such mis-information, even if it is intended to garner discussion, will tend to drive people crazy.
     
  28. Such titles, I just see as fair game. We all see them every day in the press.
     
  29. This appears to be another Princess Topless law. Recently a dame from Good Ole Britian went topless on a private balcony and some photog came along with a big fat lens and got some big fat photographs and the Royals have their knickers in a twist.
    Remember, both Britian and Sweden have queens. The royals do not want the peasants to know how much fun they are having on the public dole (the average bloke's tax money) so they want to punish the messenger, not get their brood to act responsibility.
    It is so wicked to take a photo of a pair of Hermans I am sure but what if the prime minister was taking a bribe and a photog got a picture? Or of the same dude was making a deal with terrorists to turn the country over to them? Why, the photog would be a hero (temporarily).
    I fear you can expect more dumb laws. Big business and the rich run the world and any voter who thinks differently is not the brightest bulb on the tree.
     
  30. I suppose the most affected by the law would be paparazzi and not us simple souls considering ourselves the next HCBs
     
  31. My understanding of Sweden is that it is the land of respect for individual freedoms and with a strong sense of social awareness...
    A wonderful country in every way with the reputation of having among the most beautiful ladies on the planet.
    Now I'm very sure they would not mind me taking some street photos in their country....they are not a mean folk by any measure.
     
  32. A beautiful country indeed, Allen, but with an extraordinary strong social control. Neighbors watch neighbors.
     
  33. "Sweden was in 1766 the first country to introduce a constitutional law where censorship was abolished and the freedom of the press guaranteed".
     
    "Sweden prohibits hate speech, and defines it as publicly making statements that threaten or express disrespect for an ethnic group or similar group regarding their race, skin colour, national or ethnic origin, faith or sexual orientation".
     
    "Neighbors watch neighbours"
    Why? Every Swedish person I have met seemed to me to be very open minded with good communication skills and very friendly and helpful.
    Nosy neighbours are part of life in every county.
     
  34. "but with an extraordinary strong social control"
    Is that a bad thing? I not sure what you mean by the word "extraordinary", Anders.
     
  35. This is an anti peeping ton law, not an anti street photography law, which would be impossible in enforce without banning
    cameras, including Hasselblads.
     
  36. A beautiful country indeed, Allen, but with an extraordinary strong social control. Neighbors watch neighbors.​
    What do you mean?
     
  37. Correction : ...to enforce.....
     
  38. May be it is a beautiful country and a nice social-democracy that is good for its middle class citizens and wellfare recipients though I much prefer a free market economy that drives innovation and rewards initiative. What innovations has Sweden come with over the last century? And also its government justifies islamist terrorists in the Middle East. But these subjects are for another forum
     
  39. "Neighbors watch neighbours"
    Alan H: "What do you mean?"
    ""Is that a bad thing? I not sure what you mean by the word "extraordinary""
    ""Nosy neighbours are part of life in every county.""
    Alan K. ""What do you mean?""

    There is actually a strong social control, where Swedes much more than Danes or Norwegians, watch out and react against deviant behavior. It is right, that nosy neighbors are part of life in every country, but relatively less in Sweden. It's neighboring countries, call Sweden: Control-Sweden.
    Why it is like that is much more difficult to explain, but some would refer to the socalled folkehjemmet (The People's Home) which is, or was at least, the Swedish social democratic welfare state created in the 1930s. The social control is a collective gathering around such common and shared values. Some would say that Sweden has changed since the great number of emigrants and refugees arrived during the last 20-30 years. Sweden has accepted a huge number of political refugees. Even the integration law of 1997 almost explicitly announces that the common Folkehjem is gone.

    ""What innovations has Sweden come with over the last century?""
    Why that question ? Sweden is one of the richest and most innovative and productive country in the world, and has been for years. Here is a list of recent Swedish innovations to thew on: the pacemaker, innovations in artificial intelligence, the gamma knife for brain surgery, transmission of high voltage direct current, Losec ulcer medicine, the mecum wheel, energetically modified cement, micro IP as well as Spotify internet music service and Skype
     
  40. "a nice social-democracy that is good for its middle class citizens and wellfare recipients though I much prefer a free market economy that drives innovation and rewards initiative".
    Let us fill our pockets with gold who cares about anyone else.
    Let the poor starve obviously they have no drive for innovation truly a sad lot. Word on the street is that they die every second from poverty and disease.
    One cannot help but wonder if these folk had a little bit of opportunity they might be able to join this free market economy. Unfortunately they do not have enough gold in their pockets or perhaps are not clever enough.
    As for the rest Anders has said it.
    Enjoy your photos ,Anders.
     
  41. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Don't forget the Ikea store.
     
  42. "Don't forget the Ikea store."
    And Volvo cars.
    Hey, without gold in your pocket....
     
  43. Hey, without gold in your pocket....
    Good bye.
    But that is just the way the cookie crumbles.
     
  44. Absolut, ABBA, and meatballs...
     
  45. Swedish meatballs. Yum.
     
  46. Yes Ikea meatballs with horse meat, yummy, also the Millennium Trilogy, Bergman and Vasen!
     
  47. Sorry to prick your balloon but Volvo was sold to Cheery Cars of China. Saab also had a rich history, but it could not be sold so GM, who had bought it, switched it off completely.
    I only have a problem with the Swedes and the Swiss in this regard. You can't count on them if there's a war on.
     
  48. ""You can't count on them if there's a war on.""

    Might be the most admirable part of recent history about Sweden, if we can forget the Assange story for a moment.
     
  49. Actually Saab are producing again now that they threw off the shackles of their American masters. Now they have nice new Chinese and Japanese masters instead! :)
    Don't forget that Saab's aerospace division is still Swedish owned and operated.
     
  50. Actually, I think the Swedes, like the Swiss, have pretty much made it clear they want to be kept out of anybody's wars. That's a plus in my book.
     
  51. Right, Barry. They succeeded during 150 years.
     
  52. Actually, I think the Swedes, like the Swiss, have pretty much made it clear they want to be kept out of anybody's wars.​
    If only it were true. List of wars involving Sweden.
     
  53. It is true Clive also according to the list of wars involving Sweden, you refer to: From 1814 to 1961 they were neutral: 147 years
     
  54. I was one day in Frankfurt Airport's Senator (pronounced Sen AH' Tur), lounge, a high-roller lounge operated by Lufthansa for its high paying and/or high mileage customers as well as those of its 'alliance' (me, for instance) a place where there are comfortable chairs, sofas and comfortable places to rest.
    I was talking with Sweden's top Washington, D.C. journalist going back home to Sweden for a brief respite before returning to Washington to resume his reporting, interviewing etc., duties for his newspaper.
    In the middle of the lounge was a man on a sofa or lounge who was sleeping in full view of everybody, with limbs completely akimbo and face with a great expression.

    I proceeded to take his photo, it being for my purposes a 'public place' and no prohibition against photos. This Swedish journalist almost fell over himself criticizing me, saying it was 'illegal' to take photos of a sleeping person without their consent.
    I played along, saying 'what I am supposed to do, 'wake him up, ask him if I can take a photo of him sleeping, then ask him if he'll go to sleep again, hope his limbs will return to their oddball positions, and that he'll agree?' An absurd proposition, which was designed to teach this man a lesson.
    He got no such lesson from it.
    I was supposed to 'refrain' from such photography, as it was 'forbiddeen' though I was on German soil and although Germans are ultra-sensitive about photography, their laws have to do with 'PUBLICATION' rather than the mere taking, according to research undertaken by former (or present) Photo.net member Alexander Zeigler and also advice given me by a German attorney who knew such laws.
    In any case, no one who saw me (except this Swedish journalist) could have cared one whit.
    Sweden obviously has a special sensibility about 'candid' photos, and even a JOURNALIST of the highest order in their country can spout such nonsense about the laws of a foreign country to an American for photos taken outside of Sweden (I got his card and verified his position . . . . he was who he said he was, and highly respected).
    I told him in riposte that some of the grandfather of photojournalism's best photos, Henri Cartier-Bresson took some of his most wonderful photos of people sleeping, and certainly many of them also were of people who were attempting sleep and drowsing, all in public, let alone that door he shoved in to take a photo of two lesbians making love . . . . . or the couple in the river actually involved in intercourse, or the Romanian couple in the back of the bus 'making out' so artfully.
    We agreed to disagree, and at that moment, I prayed that Swedish journalist was the only Swede or even journalist who held such views; but now, for the first time, I fear that his expressed views, may be more universal than I ever thought -- at least in Sweden.
    I'll be watching my back if I find myself shooting 'street' in Sweden, no matter what the status of this proposed (or ratified) law that is the subject of this post.
    Even if it's meant to control 'upskirt' or 'downblouse' and restroom/changing room photos, my experience deeply chilled me, now in retrospect, and putting this post together with that experience.
    john
    John (Crosley)
     
  55. Thanks Clive, I was soooooo wrong. But what has been the degree of involvement as part of UN or other coalition forces? Since early 19th century, they haven't exactly been the drivers of international conflict. But yeah, lots of actions. Not WWI or II though. With a pretty big gap after 1815 and the few modern engagements as connected with the U.N. or Coalitions forces. Of course every European History buff knows that King Gustav II (Gustavus Adolpuhs) was a major military player in Europe during the 30 years war and for quite a while, Sweden was a military power and player in the wars and empire building in Europe. But I am well OT...
     
  56. I have never liked "Covert" photography, I've always felt it was sneaky and underhanded. Which is why I've always felt long lenses and street photography were not compatible. I've always preferred to shoot openly without hiding what I'm doing.

    I'm not sure if the Swedish interpretation of the term, "covert" is the same as the American one, but from an American perspective coupled with my belief in how street should be done, I don't see this as a major hardship for me.

    At the very least, this will cut down on the meaningless photos of women's backsides in tight jeans, and pretty women sipping coffee in a shop somewhere. (This is NOT to say, people doing meaningless things, can't be design elements in an overall graphic presentation, but we've ALL seen those photos that are simply some adolescent man/boy exercising his voyeuristic tendencies)

    I've always felt 'street' meant photos of urban street life that reflected a specific point of view and style of presentation. Photos with no meaning or content can not gain meaning or content via B&W conversion.
     

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