The rules of life in a digital age

As we become more aware of our lives on social media, we have  and increased awareness of what it means to have privacy in an online world. Many people choose to make their Instagram, Facebook, tumblr and even twitter accounts private. They chose to share their images and posts only with a selection of friends and family. However now that there is also easier access to digital cameras, there is also a risk that our images are still being shared online without our consent.

This is the reality for a young woman whose picture was taken as she slept inside what looks like a library and was caught on camera unawares. User theshitclockisticking uploaded her picture on Reddit and then there’s no stopping a Photoshop battle.” (The indian Express, 2016).

Now, the images are indeed hilarious. The creativity used by many people is amazing, there are some truly talented Phototshoppers out there. is it really ever ok to post a picture of someone you don’t know without their permission?

Colberg states in his blog, that given that many people just don’t want to be photographed without their consent, photographers should be more careful…it might be perfectly legal to photograph someone in a public space, but something being legal doesn’t mean it’s ethical as well (2003).

However, the law is slowly catching up to the digital age, and within Australia while Some courts have not developed to the point of recognising an action for breach of privacy in regards to photos taken in public, others have begun to hold the view that invasion of privacy was an actionable wrong which gives rise to a right to recover damages according to the ordinary principles governing damages in tort. (Sotherm & Dowd, 2001). Similarly, in the UK, courts have developed a “duty of confidence in relation to private information as the basis for legal remedies for an invasion of privacy” (Sother & Dowd,2001)

Recently, Dani Mathers, a play boy bunny, received significant backlash for posting the photo of an elderly lady who was using the shower at her gym on her snapchat. In fact, she is now facing charges for “egregiously violating a member’s right of privacy by taking a picture of her while naked in the shower, and then humiliating her by posting the picture with a disgusting caption” (, 2016)

So it is important to remember, that while you might believe that the picture you just took of a complete stranger is incredibly funny, posting this picture online without their consent could still have legal repercussions as the law slowly catches up the minefield that is the world online.


Colberg, J 2003, Ethics of Street Photography, Published April 3,, 2016, Viewed 13 Sept, 2016,

Sotheren, R V  & Dowd, J 2001, Information sheet: Street Photographers Rights, Arts Law Centre of Australia

The Indian Express, 2016 viewed 13 September 20016,




5 thoughts on “The rules of life in a digital age

  1. I enjoyed the example you used here of the newest meme prowling the internet of the girl who fell asleep. It really shows how taking public images are legal, but not always ethical, but how what is ethical is dependent on each specific individual who either views or shares the image. I talked a little bit about that perception of ethics on my blog here: but also found this video really interesting in determining the ethics of ethnographic public photography : It makes me think about how can we as a society deem what is ethical on a whole, and how we can establish rules and precedents to ensure that these cohesive ethic forms are upheld.

    Liked by 1 person

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