Should It Be Illegal to Take Photos of Other Kids?

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I live far away from all family since my husband is in the Navy (though we move home next month! SQUEE!). My parents and sister are Facebook users, like me, so I share tons of pictures and videos and day-to-day stuff so my family can feel more connected.

My son's kindergarten class picture came in, and I dutifully scanned it, cropped out the names of his classmates, and then posted it. I also posted pictures from a park where my son played, with other kids. Immediately I was warned that some parents might be angry that I had put their children's picture on the Internet. I was baffled. Really? A picture, with no name? WHY?

But thanks to a bill considered in New Jersey, just taking pictures of kids who happen to be near my son could be considered illegal.

I don't get the big deal about photos of kids being posted or taken. I figure I'm in the background and so are my kids on strangers' photos of playgrounds, too. And yes, I've had my photos stolen and used as a fake profile, but aside from being pathetic, it's not like it hurt me or my kiddo. But this bill proposed in New Jersey (A3297) would make this all totally illegal ... illegal to photograph kids at a park, or video them.

Now, the reason is because they want to prevent pedophiles from photographing or filming minors, since even an old man filming a girl's swim meet with gross intentions can't really be charged with more than petty disorderly conduct, but the fact is that imposing the law would punish people like ME. Even newspapers would be required to have permission of every single person in a photo, even if they're just in the background, meaning if this picture was your kid's swim meet, for example, you'd need permission from the parent of every child there or you could potentially be charged.

Yeah, good luck with that. No more public rally photos, either, I'd assume.

Not only would it be illegal, but it'd be a third degree crime, which means a sentence of one to five years in prison if convicted. Seriously?

Fortunately, they skipped the vote entirely since it was called "ridiculous," was an obvious overstep into the realm of freedom of speech (or expression), and was way too broad and would hurt people like me who obviously have no sick intentions in my photography. The current language says what would be illegal would be a photo that "a reasonable parent or guardian would not expect his child to be the subject of such reproduction."

But what is "reasonable"?

The revised bill should make it clear that this is only to focus on people of a predatory nature, says an assembly woman. But how can you determine intention? The law has a good heart, but will be hard to make clear.

How do you think the law should read, if there is one at all?

 

Images via aechempati/Flickr; klitzegroß/Flickr

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