he concept of “personal data” introduced into our lives with the Personal Data Protection Law (KVKK) covers any information related to an identified or identifiable real person. The data that falls within the scope of “any information” includes commonly thought of data like names, surnames, phone numbers, or email addresses, which we use multiple times throughout the day. Data that the law categorizes as special categories of personal data, such as biometric records and health data, are encountered less frequently in daily life.
What about our photos?
In a world where people of all ages use social media accounts and take photos continuously with smartphones, preventing the unauthorized taking and publishing of our photos without our consent is quite challenging but not impossible.
The Personal Data Protection Authority draws attention to this issue in its guidelines and on social media accounts. It is your fundamental right to not want your photos to be taken or published without your consent at events such as meetings, trainings, or seminars you attend. Your participation in an event does not imply consent for your photos to be taken without your permission and for these photos to be published. Organizers of events or those who intend to publish your photos must explicitly inform you and obtain your clear consent without any pressure. Decisions should be made to respect individual decisions in group photos, and arrangements should be made accordingly.
How Can Consent for Photo Shooting Be Obtained?
The Personal Data Protection Authority has sample practices for informing participants and obtaining explicit consent at events. According to this practice, information texts should be posted at the entrance of the event hall, where relevant individuals can read them. After informing the participants, explicit consent must be obtained for taking their photos or sharing them on social media.
One sample practice for obtaining explicit consent is to arrange the seating in the event hall, with some seats having green tags and others having red tags. No photos or videos can be taken in the section with red-tagged seats, while shooting can be done and shared on relevant media outlets in the section with green-tagged seats.
Additionally, participants who willingly wear green-colored badges provided at the entrance of the event hall allow their photos and videos to be taken, whereas participants who wear red-colored badges are not included in the images. The Authority often combines both badge and seat color practices in the events it organizes.
It is essential to note that we should not only pay attention to not having our own photos taken or published without consent but also ensure that third parties who have not given their consent do not appear in our photos. The Authority aims to create awareness for societal culture regarding personal data security, stating that, “Not only our own but also others’ data security is important! In crowded places, care should be taken to ensure that third parties appear in photos without their consent, and if not possible, a ‘blurring’ process should be applied to the photos.”