A council has revised its rules on taking pictures in public after photographers complained that its Data Protection guidelines were unfair.

Swansea Council called on local amateur and professional photographers to help it draw up new guidlines on photography after the council’s initial draft failed to make clear that images taken for personal use do not risk breaching the Data Protection Act.

Among those who met council officials was amateur photographer Norman Harris who said the council prevented him from taking photos in public earlier this year.

‘While the complaint I have with them is ongoing, to my surprise they invited me to a consultation meeting on their photographic policy,’ he told us.

Following the meeting, the council revised its draft version of the rules – adding that if a photograph is taken for personal use then the photographer does not need permission from the subject because the Data Protection Act does not apply.

Following what it described as ‘detailed discussions’ with photographers, the council has also included a paragraph stating that uploading images to websites such as Facebook and Flickr ‘does not constitute publishing’.

This concurs with Amateur Photographer (AP)’s discussions with the Information Commissioner’s Office last month.

However, it seems there is still some confusion over the council’s rules on photographing children.

A separate section of the council’s guidelines headed ‘Photography of children’ states: ‘Be aware that if you are taking a photograph/recording an image of a single child (aged 16 years or under) or small group of children (five or less) at an event, written consent is required from a legal guardian (s) of the children involved.’

Though the council told AP that no consent is required for images taken at council-run public events, provided they are for ‘personal use’, the section in the guidelines concerning photos of children does not state this.

AP told the council that this may leave the guidelines open to misinterpretation by council officials patrolling, for example, council-run Christmas events that attract large numbers of children.

The council spokesman had yet to comment on this at the time of writing.


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