What to do if pictures in public cross the line


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – There’s a photo op at almost every corner in downtown Nashville. But what if you become the subject of someone else’s snapshot without your permission?

“With the advent of phones and how everyone has a camera on them 24/7, you need to be aware of your surroundings, and who’s around you. You also need to know that people can take photos, and it’s not necessarily stalking, and it’s not necessarily harassment in Tennessee,” explains attorney Grover Collins of Collins Legal, PLC.

The law has conditions, when it comes to punishing overzealous picture takers, even if you’re in a public place.

“There’s kind of a two-part test there. It’s got to embarrass or offend a reasonable person in that situation, and the photo has to be for the purposes of sexual gratification, but what’s key to that though is it’s clothed or unclothed,” Collins says.

The picture must also intrude on someone’s expectation of privacy.

“Normally a reasonable expectation of privacy is pretty easy to define,” explains Collins. “If I’m in a house, if I’m in a bathroom, if I’m in a locker room, if I’m somewhere I can shut the door and it’s just me in there, absolutely no one can film in those situations.”

But, if you’re out in public, the lines are a little more blurred.

Just because you’re on a busy street, doesn’t mean that you don’t have an expectation of privacy to things underneath your clothing or things that your clothing would hide.

And, it’s not a one-size-fits all crime, then Collins says, “If you have a creeper out there taking pictures of you, and they do it one time, that’s probably not harassment. But, if it’s a continued course of conduct, it’s harassment. If they’re following you around, they’re sending you text messages, that’s stalking.”

If you feel you’ve been victimized reach out for help. “I would definitely recommend them to consult with an attorney or an advocate at the Jean Crowe Center to get a letter to tell them to stop,” says Collins.

In Tennessee, stalking is a class A misdemeanor, which has a penalty of up to a year in prison.

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