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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? How do you blur faces in a video on TikTok?

Imagine this: You're enjoying a day out, only to find yourself the unwitting star of a viral TikTok video. Intriguing? Perhaps. Legal? That's where things get murky.

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.

(Remember that each platform may have a different privacy policy, so the individual posting 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?

While capturing photos and videos in public places is quite common, featuring individuals in these media without their consent can create tricky legal situations. Although incidental appearances in public recordings often fall outside the scope of legal action, privacy laws introduce complexities when these images are shared online. Posting without consent may invite legal challenges, especially if filmed for commercial or defamatory purposes.

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.

Suppose a company or a brand has shared the photo without consent during an advertising campaign or promotional activity. In that case, 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 to images being 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 videos without obtaining your consent and that they caused you harm, you can recover damages in a civil lawsuit.

Is Recording Videos in Public Allowed?

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

In public spaces like sidewalks and parks, you're generally allowed to film anything in plain view due to the lack of an expectation of privacy. However, specific locations, such as certain transit systems and parks, may require photography and videography permits. This often involves a fee and proof of insurance.

Recording policies may restrict filming in privately-owned spaces or malls, as indicated by signage or staff. It's always best to seek permission to ensure compliance with local regulations.

Privacy Laws, Rules, and Regulations

Understanding privacy laws involves recognizing differences in federal, state, and local regulations. 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.)

While the First Amendment protects free speech and press activities, it doesn't negate the need for press credentials in certain situations.

Private entities may require specific permissions for recording at the events. Usually, certain criteria must be followed and 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. Overzealous officers have stopped, questioned, interfered with, and detained many.

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 is a potentially criminal activity rather than a constitutionally protected form of expression.

Understanding these guidelines is crucial for citizens and officers to balance security concerns with protecting free expression rights.

Beefed up Farm Security

Several states have passed laws prohibiting unauthorized photography and recording on farms to protect agricultural operations from potentially misleading undercover recordings.

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

These measures aim to prevent the distribution of images that could harm the industry's reputation by depicting farming practices out of context. Instead, they encourage reporting suspected abuses through official channels to ensure such issues are addressed fairly and accurately, balancing farm security with animal welfare concerns.

Recording Videos While in Motion

Meanwhile, in states like Illinois, using devices for digital photography or videography is banned while driving to minimize distractions. 

Regarding ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, recording passengers without permission for public sharing is prohibited. However, drivers can record for security reasons as long as the footage isn't broadcast or shared publicly.‍

Recording Videos While in Motion

Groundbreaking TikTok Settlement

In 2019, the US Federal Trade Commission fined, now called TikTok, $5.7 million for collecting information from under-13s violating 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. However, looking at the allegations, one can deduce 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 the app used drafted and unposted videos to mine information and that the user's data was unlawfully disclosed to third parties like Google and Facebook. TikTok has reportedly made changes as part of the settlement. 

The settlement led to changes in how TikTok handles US users' data, promising not to collect biometric data or track locations.

How Redactor Can Help You 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 the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 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 intelligent editing features, allows users 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

If you manage video assets, personally identifiable information (PII) can be easily blurred 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. 

What if someone wants their face to be removed from your TikTok video? Isn't it time you invested in an intelligent and portable redaction solution to avoid violating privacy laws? Get limited-time full access to Redactor today.

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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