New Law Means Photographers In Hungary Must Ask Permission First; Bad Hungarian Cops Rejoice

by Glyn Moody
Mar. 18, 2014

Last year, we wrote about a weird law in Sweden that forbade photos from being taken indoors without asking permission. Now Hungary has gone even further. As The Guardian reports, the country has brought in:
a new civil code that outlaws taking pictures without the permission of everyone in the photograph. According to the justice ministry, people taking pictures should look out for those "who are not waving, or who are trying to hide or running out of shot".
Although the Hungarian government claims this is simply codifying existing practice, there's one area where it is likely to have a big impact, as the lawyer Eszter Bognár explains:
"I don't think this is going to change the practice of photographing 'normal' people, because they don't have the possibility to ID the person taking the photo, but it's going to be more difficult to take pictures of policemen."
And Márton Magócsi, senior photo editor at news website Origo, warns:
"The real danger is that private security companies or the police will try to keep reporters and photojournalists out of certain areas, or prevent them and members of the public from taking photographs of their actions," he adds.
That's something we're seeing increasingly, and it seems to be part of a general trend to counter the inconvenient ubiquity of high-quality cameras, now routinely found on mobile phones. The photos and videos they record can be used as compelling evidence of illegal police actions that before might have escaped punishment for want of any proof. The new Hungarian law means bad apples in the country's police force will find it easier to avoid this kind of scrutiny.

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