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In Australia, Even Private Facebook Photos Are Public 71

Posted by timothy
from the all-nimbly-pimbly dept.
littlekorea writes "Australia's telecommunications regulator has ruled that one of the country's largest broadcasters, Channel 7, did not breach the industry code of conduct by lifting photos of deceased persons and minors from social networking site Facebook. Significantly, the regulator noted that it doesn't have the legal authority to crack down on broadcasters that lift material tagged as 'private,' looking to the Attorney General to provide some legal clarity."
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In Australia, Even Private Facebook Photos Are Public

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 19, 2011 @04:35AM (#38422304)

    Is it that in Australia we just seem to be 18 months behind the rest of the world?
    The UK has had the News of the World scandal; however, we are still in the "Nothing to hide" movement of several years back:

    A recent article on this topic is at http://www.1place.com.au/1P/blog1p/?p=2269

    The problem with “nothing to hide” surveillance or intrusions into privacy is, that if such an approach is left to dominate without regulation, then our secrets will diminish. Secrets give rise to disruptive thought in areas such as in technology contributes to help society evolve. Privacy and confidentiality are areas of law that help ideas develop into disruptive technology.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It was never about what you have to hide!
      It's about what they want to find.

      And in that regard, Cardinal Richelieu (most evil inquisition motherfucker you ever heard of) once said:

      "If you gave me six lines, written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something to hang him for."

      • by Ofloo (1378781)
        Or what they believe they have found, information can be abused to make seem something is true.
    • If you have nothing to hide then you are not human ...

      If you have nothing to hide :

      Why do you have curtains?

      Why do wear clothes?

      Why don't you video your entire life and broadcast it online ...? ...because you do have something to hide : a private life

         

      • by nedlohs (1335013)

        If you have nothing to hide then you are not human ...

        If you have nothing to hide :

        Why do you have curtains?

        I don't. I do have blinds which is the same idea.

        I have them to block the sunlight from washing out various LCD displays.

        Why do wear clothes?

        A few reasons.

        Too keep warm.

        Also it seems more hygenic to have something between my ass and the couch, given other people sit on the same couch.

        There's also social/legal reasons. Doing the grocery shopping without clothes would end with me in jail. Inflicting the

        • by Ofloo (1378781)
          Privacy is being able to say something without worrying that someone will abuse that information, .. there is no freedom without privacy. If you have to think every second of the time how people will interpret whatever you are doing or saying, then you are in prison. It is not about what you've got to hide it's about being able to do or say something without people labeling you.
          • by Ofloo (1378781)
            Just think about what companies do now with social networks, .. how they use that information, .. this shit is haunting peoples lives. About what they do in there free time, .. and I'm referring to the legal things they do. Those who pretend to be saints, are probably those have to hide the most. It's like when someone farts in a room usually the first one to speak is the one who let it fly. So those that say I don't care I've got nothing to hide probably got the most shit going on.
      • by Golddess (1361003)
        Please note, I am not disagreeing with you. But I can easily imagine responses to your questions that have nothing to do with having something to hide.

        Why do you have curtains?

        To keep out the sun. Don't really care who looks in, but that sun, ick, makes things too bright/hot. You might see curtains as overkill, but sometimes you just wanna block out the sun completely.

        Why do wear clothes?

        I am not ashamed of my body, but it is cold out. Also, society tends to frown on people walking around nude, enough so that I'd likely end up arrested and maybe e

  • Makes sense. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CarboRobo (1932000) on Monday December 19, 2011 @04:36AM (#38422314)
    A "private" tag doesn't magically make a public item private.
    • Re:Makes sense. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Gaygirlie (1657131) <gaygirlie&hotmail,com> on Monday December 19, 2011 @05:11AM (#38422396) Homepage

      It depends on the implementation. If once you have tagged something private only a select group of people have access to it then it is private, if it however is just a text tag and everyone still has access to it then it is public. Tagging something as private shows very clear intent from the poster and especially if access to it is also restricted then the intent is more than clear enough, atleast here in Finland. I suppose in the rest of the world common sense is extinct or outlawed.

      • by migla (1099771)

        And if common sense is not allowed to prevail, then as some intermediate solution, maybe Facebook could speak up and tell the vultures not to use their copyrighted material for subethical purposes? It might amuse some people who appreciate irony as well.

        ps: You're from Finland? Liar! Everyone knows there are no gays in Finland. ;)

        • ps: You're from Finland? Liar! Everyone knows there are no gays in Finland. ;)

          It's not gay if you only mate with polar bears!

      • by WillAdams (45638)

        I envy your living in Finland on this basis --- once, when working on packaging for shampoo, had to deal w/ the warning text which had to be customized for each country's legal and health system.

        If memory serves, the French was the longest (though that may simply've been because of the verbosity of the language), and the warning texts all had typical injunctions of ``external use only'', ``keep out of eyes'', &c., save for the Finnish, which was so short, that I couldn't resist asking for the translatio

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        atleast here in Finland

        Don't make the mistake of thinking the rest of the world is nearly as sensible as Finland.

    • Re:Makes sense. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by one cup of coffee (1623645) on Monday December 19, 2011 @05:40AM (#38422480)
      A "private" tag doesn't magically make a public item private.

      Then what's the point of calling it private? It's misleading to do so isn't it? Also, the very nature of social networks operate on the basis of filtering, without which there's no point in having "friends" or groups etc, it would just be a giant cluster-fuck like the wild west days of the early internet which to some degree is why people flocked to social networks in the first place. I'm not saying it isn't a giant cluster-fuck on FB either btw, but just because a lot of people are ignorant about how the internet works, doesn't mean that they deserve to have their children or deceased family members images trawled and publicly monetized by multi-billion dollar corporations. Yes, I realize that's exactly what FB, Google, et. all are doing, but at least they do it privately, and supposedly anonymously, that's what makes them tolerable. After all, you can't escape unless you basically shun society as a whole, because even if you don't have a FB account, someone at sometime will take your photo and tag you online without your permission. Please tell me if I'm wrong, but I'm arguing that there has to be protections. That is the purpose of governments anyways, to provide protections for its members the citizens. I think the Australian government failed on this one.
      • If I label an ice cube "hot", it doesn't make it so. If I label an elephant "small", it doesn't make it so. Likewise with images I've posted on Facebook: they're quite obviously public, regardless of whether I'd like them to be, or how I've tagged them
        • I thought you could actually change the security settings so that only friends, friends of friends, or a subset of friends for example could see them? Then if you navigate to the picture you get a "permission denied ". I know I've had that before when someone posted me a link and it didn't work because I wasn't friends with the person who uploaded the picture for example.

          It sounds more like people really have made these pictures public if they're set so that anybody can see them. Either that or one of their

          • by robbak (775424)

            It seems to be an extension of that "web site EULA != law" distinction that we sure want courts and legislatures to remember. And, of course, one person may post a picture 'private', but nothing is physically stopping one of those friends of friends from copying it and posting it public. Sure, a journalist should do due diligence to make sure this hasn't happened, but it's hard to see how they could detect it - after all, the original is 'private', so how would they know?

            • If they've posted it public then it will no longer be marked as private. The headline of this article is simply wrong. The real headline should be something like "some of your friends in life may be douches who will copy things and share things about you without your permission". That hardly just applies to Facebook.

        • by DrXym (126579)
          The thing is, if some people do inadvertently believe that tagging something private makes it private, then how hard is it for facebook to ask "you added the word private to this photo, do you want to make it private? Yes / No".
    • by DJRumpy (1345787)

      That was my initial response, that once marked private, it should remain so, but it appears in this case, that someone the poster trusted and granted access to the photos might have then handed them over to the network (note: I can't find this in TFA, but it appears to read that way). It doesn't appear that they hacked the info, but rather it was given to them by someone who did have access to the private photos (easily done in the privacy settings for each individual post to restrict it as private except f

  • How ingenuous! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aglider (2435074) on Monday December 19, 2011 @04:37AM (#38422316) Homepage

    Do you really think that once you put something private online it will be private forever?
    Privacy is a process, not a product or, worse, a tag on a file.
    Do you want to keep your "digital life" private?
    Forget about putting it online.

    • by neokushan (932374)

      I'll be honest, as much as I agree that this is the way things work at the moment - once on the internet, it's pretty much guaranteed to stay on the internet no matter what you do (be it lawsuits, takedown notices, etc.), I do feel that we should be able to expect some element of privacy.

      Compare it to email - I'm sure even yourself wouldn't say that emails are private and should remain private. After all, if anyone could get to anyone else's emails then it'd be a disaster. Emails are, probably due to their

      • by neokushan (932374)

        Correction:

        I'm sure even yourself wouldn't say that emails are private and should remain private

        "wouldn't" should be would.

        Apologies, it's early, etc. etc.

      • by Pharmboy (216950)

        The problem with email privacy is that once you send it to me, I can do anything with it I want, and I should be able to. There are two points of "failure" when it comes to email privacy. The only way to truly expect privacy with email is if you only email yourself.

        That said, I love the warnings that people put on the ends of their email, how it is a "crime" if you distribute the email. Nothing could be more laughable and unenforceable. If you don't want me distributing something you sent, get me to sig

        • by gr8_phk (621180)

          That said, I love the warnings that people put on the ends of their email, how it is a "crime" if you distribute the email. Nothing could be more laughable and unenforceable. If you don't want me distributing something you sent, get me to sign a non-disclosure. Otherwise, if it is in my inbox, it's mine.

          Wow, you're really unaware of how copyright works. An email falls under copyright of the author. Your copy belongs to you. One can argue that you both have some right to it because it was created for you. P

        • The problem with email privacy is that once you send it to me, I can do anything with it I want, and I should be able to.

          I hope you tell this position of yours to all your email contacts in advance, so they know to never write you anything they wouldn't also have no problem to tell to the local newspaper.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        putting something on fb is more like printing 50 copies and sending them out as christmas cards than keeping a photo in a personal binder at home..

  • by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Monday December 19, 2011 @04:40AM (#38422326)

    Again, folks, nothing you post on Facebook is private. Nothing. Seriously, there are simply ***NO*** privacy issues with Facebook, because nothing on Facebook is private.

    The rule is simple: If you want to maintain privacy, don't post your "private" material on Facebook or any other "social networking" web site.

     

    • by Kjella (173770) on Monday December 19, 2011 @05:31AM (#38422458) Homepage

      That's not nearly enough, unfortunately. My Facebook profile is next to nothing, it exists only so I can respond to event invites because it's become the de facto way of doing it and in some way I can understand that people go "Why can't you stop being such a special snowflake so I can have my guest list in one place?" and isolated speaking, no I don't really care that anyone knows I was there. But as a free bonus I also got tagged in pictures from the party by some less than privacy sensitive people, which I don't need. I didn't upload those pictures, I didn't tag them and honestly I wish there was a "do not tag" flag I could set where nobody could tag me in any way without approval. Then again I turned my sharing settings down to the minimum, though I'm not sure it actually helps when I'm not the one doing the sharing. Sigh.....

      • There is a "do not tag" option in Facebook. I use it to keep my friends from tagging me in my drunk pics.
    • Again, folks, nothing you post on Facebook is private. Nothing. Seriously, there are simply ***NO*** privacy issues with Facebook, because nothing on Facebook is private.

      The rule is simple: If you want to maintain privacy, don't post your "private" material on Facebook or any other "social networking" web site.

      While that may be the how it works right now, I think the discussion is about how it *should* work going forward. Today, privacy is a yes or no question. How hard would it be to have a legal definition for 'relative privacy' ie Just because I do something on a public street shouldn't automatically grant you the right to publish that to a billion people. In the case of TFA, sure I wouldn't expect a Facebook post to be completely private, but there is a huge difference in privacy levels between friends of fri

      • While that may be the how it works right now, I think the discussion is about how it *should* work going forward.
        Today, privacy is a yes or no question. How hard would it be to have a legal definition for 'relative privacy' ie Just because I do something on a public street shouldn't automatically grant you the right to publish that to a billion people. In the case of TFA, sure I wouldn't expect a Facebook post to be completely private, but there is a huge difference in privacy levels between friends of friends seeing it, or even their friends and friends of friends (or even govt spies or facebook employees), but I should have some expectation that I won't see it on an international network news broadcast.

        There are controls on Facebook for if you wish to allow friends of friends to see your stuff or not and as such if you haven't denied them that permission then you can't really expect privacy. If you aren't using the controls that are already there then third parties shouldn't be accountable for your lack of discipline.

  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Monday December 19, 2011 @04:50AM (#38422356) Homepage

    There are 2 aspects to copyright:

    1) Since they were marked private it is evident that they were released (to the social network) under a license that did not include reproduction on television.

    2) Were the photographers of the pictures paid by the TV network a fee so that they could be broadcast ?

    I suspect that the TV network did not even think of these points and would have ignored the issues anyway.

    • by Archon-X (264195) on Monday December 19, 2011 @05:15AM (#38422404)

      Your hunch is correct, and it's not the first time that Channel 7 have done this sort of this.
      4-5 years ago for the launch of one of their shows, they had stills of cityscapes. Curiously, it was a familiar set of stills - they'd gone to google images, and pulled down the top 10 photos.

      Noone had been contacted to ask for permission. There was a complaint procedure that went like this:

      Ch7: The images appearing in the transmission come from our media library.
      Right Holder: No, they're mine.
      Ch7: No, they really came from our media library. Do not make allegations that you're not prepared to defend in court.
      Right Holder: Here's 'your' image, with mine overlayed. Here's the other 10, and here's the matching google search.
      Ch7: We have been told by our lawyers not to respond to your communications. Any pursuit of this matter will see it terminate in court.

      Essentially, it's a media corp. They don't care, and they'll do whatever they can for stories.

      • Actually, they'll take it one step further if you do indicate that you're willing to take it to court; they'll offer you a small amount of money (nothing remotely what the image was worth to them*), point out the court proceedings costs for you even if you should win the case, tell you that you really should be honored that your picture was used because it means exposure for you that you can capitalize on**, and have a good day.

        Of course...
        * It's worth shit to them, because if they couldn't have gotten your

    • A friend of mine works as a sub-editor for a national newspaper. He says they don't care about copyright. If they have an image, they'll use it. If there's any copyright claim later, they have lawyers to deal with that.

      • A friend of mine works as a sub-editor for a national newspaper. He says they don't care about copyright. If they have an image, they'll use it. If there's any copyright claim later, they have lawyers to deal with that.

        I have previously been told by people in the industry that tracking down the copyright holder for most photos is so onerous that its actually cheaper to just publish them and wait to be sued than to figure out who to pay before hand. Whilst I agree that where it is obvious who holds the copyright then they should be asked first, I can see that there are many situations where it isn't clear who to ask (some would argue that in this case they shouldn't be using the images at all, of course).

  • by msobkow (48369) on Monday December 19, 2011 @04:53AM (#38422366) Homepage Journal

    IN THIS CORNER: Facebook. Google. Slashdot. Forums. Blogs. MSN. Yahoo. Groups. Lists. Sharing. Publishing. Broadcasting.

    And in this corner: privacy.

    Seriously, if it's private, WTF are you posting it to a web service for?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Because I'm lonely god damnit! Likes, upvotes. +'s, insightful mods and linkbacks are the only thing keeping me from falling into the abyss! Is that what you wanted to hear?

      *sobs* You can stick cameras in my toilet if it just means you care about me. I'd trade my privacy for a little bit of interest....

    • Seriously, if it's private, WTF are you posting it to a web service for?

      Because some people wish to share stuff with a SELECT GROUP OF PEOPLE. It doesn't mean they want to share the stuff with the whole world. That's why there are privacy controls on these things.

      • by msobkow (48369)

        Read the article. The photos were not published to a "select group", they were PUBLIC in Facebook terms.

        This case involved someone complaining that their publicly published photos were publicly redistributed by the media, and the judge rightly said that if it's on Facebook and tagged as public, it is fair game for anyone.

        I say again: if you don't want it being publicly accessed, why would you post it to a public web service? Send it as an email, host it on your own secure server requiring logins to v

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Hahaha suckers, I don't even have facebook.

    Or friends.

  • by Mr_Silver (213637) on Monday December 19, 2011 @05:54AM (#38422506)

    So I read the description of the story and thought to myself "this makes no sense, if you posted photos as private or friends only, how on earth did Channel Seven get hold of them?"

    So, shockingly, I read the story and it turns out the description is completely wrong. Here are the key parts (bold mine for emphasis):

    Australia's communications regulator has ruled that television networks are not breaking the industry's code of practice when publishing photos lifted from a public Facebook profile.

    [...]

    "The ACMA found that due to the open nature of the tribute page, the absence of privacy settings and the non-sensitive nature of the photographs, Seven did not breach the privacy provisions of the code," the ACMA noted in a press statement.

    In short, they lifted photos tagged as public on a public tribute page, littlekorea completely twisted the truth (by mixing up "public" and "private") when submitting the story and timothy didn't do any basic editing.

    It'll be interesting to sit back with the popcorn and watch the comments from outraged slashdotters who didn't bother to read the story and the upvotes from those with moderator points who equally didn't bother to read the story ...

    • The ACMA was begrudgingly unable to guarantee that users marking content as “private” on a social network could be safe guarded from broadcasters and publishers making it public, at least under the industry code of practice.

      “The ACMA made it clear that while it considers the use of privacy settings an important consideration when assessing material obtained from social networking sites, the actual settings are not determinative,” the regulator noted.

      Instead, the regulator will determ

    • So? Posting an image for everyone to see doesn't give anyone the right to copy and use it.

  • Isn't any digital creation automatically copyrighted by the owner, unless they waiver it, so the photos were copyrighted by the user
    • by robbak (775424) on Monday December 19, 2011 @08:20AM (#38423028) Homepage

      If you place it on a site, marked as "public", you may be seen to have authorized its reproduction. This is the case here.

      And, of course, a journalist has a range of 'fair use' rights that may allow them to use a copyrighted picture. This may be the case in a future case where a picture posted to a private page may be used. ACMA will deal with such a case if an when it comes up.

      • by nospam007 (722110) *

        "If you place it on a site, marked as "public", you may be seen to have authorized its reproduction. "

        Like a newspaper photo and article you mean?

      • If you place it on a site, marked as "public", you may be seen to have authorized its reproduction. This is the case here.

        By the same argument, Channel 7 has given everyone a right to distribute their stream since they're broadcasting it to the public.
        Copyright simply doesn't work that way. All rights are reserved unless an explicit license is given.

        Fair use is a possibility, though.

  • It's a point of law and needs to be decided by a different part of the Legal framework. As laws are not global, I suggest that people need to temper their comments based on that. The issue seems to be based of what is Private and who can report or link stuff which may then make make them Public. I would say it's Facebook that is wrong, if it allows 'friends' to link Private photos into a Public area.

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