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Recording TikTok In Public? Privacy Measures You Should Know

Recording TikTok In Public? Privacy Measures You Should Know
November 23, 2022
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Whether or not you're aware of it, recording videos in public can land you in hot water. Suppose someone has posted videos of you or your family on social media without your permission. In that case, that is illegal (this is especially true if this is done for financial gain!)

But what about TikTok? 

TikTok videos are not illegal, but just because someone can record anything does not imply they have the right to utilize that footage in any way they want, especially if they are shooting in a public setting.

(Keep in mind that each platform may have a different privacy policy, so the individual that posts may think they have done nothing wrong!)

This article discusses the issue of recording TikTok videos and how you can avoid getting into trouble with the law regarding privacy issues.

Can Images of Others Be Posted on Social Media Without the Subject's Consent?

Since people are allowed to take photographs and film footage in public spaces, there will be instances where members of the public accidentally appear in such media. Legally, there is little to be done in such a scenario unless the images are defamatory.

However, privacy laws dictate that photographers and videographers can be sued for posting images without consent. A lawsuit is a last resort; whoever posted the image or video would usually be asked to remove it first.

Using another's name, likeness, or attributes without permission for exploitative purposes can be the basis of a legal case. Using images that portray someone else online to scam others is called "catfishing". The culprit can be sued, as this is likely to harm the victim's reputation.

If a company or a brand has shared the photo without consent during an advertising campaign or promotional activity, they will usually delete the picture or blur the subject so they cannot be identified, as they would want to avoid a legal claim.

A private property owner should consent for images to be captured on their property.

You can sue the photographer if an image is used to break laws, say through harassment or blackmail.

Home Photo Listing with Redacted Contact Information

Home Photo Listing with Redacted Contact Information

Can I Sue Another Person for Recording Me Without My Consent?

If you can prove someone has been recording TikTok or other clips without obtaining your consent and that they caused you harm, you can recover damages in a civil lawsuit.

Is Recording Videos in Public Actually Allowed?

To answer this question, one needs to consider what the law considers public areas.

Where there is general public access to places such as sidewalks and parks, the guideline is that you can record whatever is in plain sight. There is no reasonable expectation of privacy in these circumstances.

It depends on what kind of photography you want, but in many transit systems and parks, you need a permit before taking pictures or videos. Usually, these permits require a fee and that proof of insurance be provided.

In malls or other privately-owned places, recording videos in public may be restricted, usually by posted signs or by mall personnel. Permission should be obtained if you wish to record footage or take photographs.

Privacy Laws, Rules, and Regulations  

Federal, state, and municipal governments differ in rules, regulations, and privacy laws. There are also distinctions when dealing with audio-visual recording as opposed to still photography or editorial (for journalistic purposes) versus commercial use (advertising or product sale.)

The First Amendment to the US Constitution has been interpreted to mean that no government entity may curtail free speech and press activities. Still, press credentials should be applied for in advance, as you may find more than the conditions of a basic press pass are necessary to allow the bearer full access to specific locations.

The First Amendment protects against governmental limitations, but non-government entities and businesses are within their rights to demand special credentials to gain entry to an event for recording purposes. Usually, certain criteria must be adhered to, which are often outlined in writing, as is the case for NFL sideline passes.

Photography may generally be protected as free expression; however, constitutional protections may be subject to "reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions."

Eavesdropping laws in some states do not allow the recording of conversations without permission, so videographers may inadvertently find themselves in trouble, even if filming in a public place and may even be arrested. 

Homeland Security

Definitions of the ISE-SAR Criteria Guidance, issued by the Department of Homeland Security, regarding photography and recording being linked to terrorism or criminal surveillance, have increasingly created problems for people recording legitimately on the streets. Many have been stopped, questioned, interfered with, and even detained by overzealous officers.

The Federal guidance refers to recording or photographing buildings, facilities, and infrastructure; and more specifically, infrequently used access points; personnel performing security functions (patrols, badge/vehicle checking); and security-related equipment (perimeter fencing, security cameras.) This has created the impression among law enforcement circles that photography or recording videos in public are a potentially criminal activity rather than a constitutionally protected form of expression.

Beefed up Farm Security

Several state have introduced legislation making it illegal to photograph, record, possess, and distribute images and recordings of farm activities, since the livestock industry in particular has come under fire after the release of undercover videos by activists exposing animal cruelty. 

Farmers maintain the legislation allows them to do their jobs without worrying about the potential for dissemination of propaganda-style videos and photographs that may be misleading and which would instill distrust in consumers and promote an agenda. 

The aim is to prevent the production of images that may display an unfair perspective of farming operations and to encourage the reporting of abuses through proper channels, so violations can be handled effectively. 

Recording Videos While in Motion

Meanwhile, in states like Illinois, devices capable of digital photography and videography are banned while operating a motor vehicle, due to the distraction provided by cell phone use whilst driving. If the cell phone is not handheld, drivers younger than 19 and school bus drivers may still not use a cell phone in this state.

Recording and publishing images or audio of Uber and Lyft passengers is not allowed. Drivers may record rides for security documentation, but may not broadcast or publish, share or stream a person’s image, audio, or video recording on social media or in other digital or physical public locations. 

Recording Videos While in Motion

Groundbreaking TikTok Settlement

In 2019, the US Federal Trade Commission fined ByteDance, the originator of the app, $5.7 million for collecting information from under-13s in violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. Nearly half of TikTok's users fall between 16 and 24. Some are even younger. 

The controversial app has denied allegations of personal information and data privacy violations, yet early in 2022, it settled a class-action lawsuit for $92 million. In 2020, TikTok was outlawed by the Indian government. It had been accused of collecting and utilizing personal data from the app's users.

It is impossible to say what privacy laws were violated as the case was settled out of court. But looking at the allegations, this was likely a personal data issue. 

It has been alleged that TikTok uses facial recognition to gain a competitive advantage over other social media apps. The suit alleged this information was used to determine personal information like age, gender, and race to recommend content. The Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act gave the citizens of Illinois the right to act against TikTok for using their biometric information without consent.

The suit also alleged that drafted and unposted videos were used by the app to mine information and that the user's data was being unlawfully disclosed to third parties like Google and Facebook. TikTok has reportedly made changes as part of the settlement. 

It has claimed it will no longer store US citizens' data outside the US, collect biometric data, track user location, or mine information from the user's drafted content. But this can be changed if it is openly disclosed in its privacy policies.  

From this case, it is clear that privacy laws are being taken seriously and that transgressions are likely to land violators in trouble.

How Redactor Can Help You to Avoid Penalties or Disputes by Redacting PII From Videos

Since many US companies have international businesses, data privacy and compliance have become a priority with General Data Protection Regulation and similar legislation unveiled nationwide.

As states have enacted privacy laws, faces, people, vehicles, license plates, and specific objects in videos and images increasingly have to be obscured so as not to incur penalties or disputes. For that, Sighthound Redactor is a highly recommended and flexible tool that is trusted by over 1,300 customers.

Video redaction aided by artificial intelligence and smart editing features, gives users the ability to determine what objects should be redacted and what the final video output should look like to the viewer. Video redaction using the ellipsis shape over sensitive objects allows more of the video to remain intact and avoid distraction for the audience. Sighthound is one of the few redaction companies that offers face and people redaction.

Musician Performs in Public Center with Redacted Bystander

Musician Performs in Public Center with Redacted Bystander

If you manage video assets, personally identifiable information (PII) can be easily blurred, either via manual editing or as part of a time-saving automatic function, allowing you peace of mind in the face of prohibitively expensive GDPR fines and repercussions.    

Rather than physically erasing information frame by frame, a task that once took hours of costly effort, redaction software powered by artificial intelligence (AI) identifies and provides a chronological list of potential video components of interest. Users choose what they want to redact, and the program automatically obscures them.

Background street signs, landmarks, and other location identifiers, images, graphs, and statistics tables can be removed, providing safety for content providers recording TikTok and other videos. Meanwhile, the original information is stored securely in case it is needed at some point, and the redacted information is not lost. 

Isn't it time you invested in an intelligent and accessible redaction solution to avoid violating privacy laws? 

Next read: See how easy it is to redact with Sighthound Redactor by checking out the best practices for video redaction to support privacy and data compliance requirements.

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