What if you were traveling on the Delhi Metro to work one day and got home only to find an unflattering video of yourself going viral on the internet? And this isn’t the sort of stuff that makes you famous for the right reasons. It’s a video shot by a stranger without your consent. The situation will leave you not just irate, but also helpless. Even if you were to get the video off the internet – and that’s no mean task – there’s no guarantee that it wouldn’t pop up elsewhere uploaded by another person.
That’s precisely what happened with Bloomberg Technology’s Adam Satariano a few months ago when he was riding the London tube and was filmed with a strange expression on his face. In his quest to get the video deleted from Instagram, he realised how the nature of online privacy has changed so drastically.
In Satariano’s case, the video was uploaded on a page called SubwayCreatures, by a person in New York, but was recorded by a commuter on the London Underground. So, who was liable and did Satariano have any rights in a case like this?
“One thing I learnt by talking to legal experts was that I didn’t really have much ground to stand on,” Satariano says.
“This person didn’t necessarily have to to remove this video of me because I was in a public place. And there’s a lot of case law in the United States about these things when (inappropriate) videos of women for instance have been posted, they’ve had to go to great lengths to get those removed with limited success.”
He questions if tech giants such as Facebook, Google and Twitter should be doing more to police their platforms and, if they should, then should these powerful companies become the editors of our digital lives?