The Reasonableness of Remaining Unobserved: A Comparative Analysis of Visual Surveillance and Voyeurism in Criminal Law

Bert Jaap Koops, Bryce Clayton Newell, Andrew Roberts, Ivan Škorvánek, Maša Galič

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The criminalization of offensive, privacy-intrusive behavior is an important form of privacy protection. However, few studies exist of visual observation in criminal law. We address this gap by researching when nonconsensual visual observation is deemed harmful enough to trigger criminal sanctions, and on what basis the law construes the “reasonableness of remaining unobserved,” through a nine-country comparative study. We distinguish between voyeurism-centric approaches (focusing largely on nudity and sex) and broader, intrusion-centric approaches (such as observation inside closed spaces). Both approaches explicitly or implicitly reflect “reasonable” privacy expectations, listing criteria for situations in which people can reasonably expect to remain unobserved or unrecorded. We present a framework for criminalizing nonconsensual visual observation, encompassing factors of technology use, place, subject matter, and surreptitiousness, supplemented by factors of intent, identifiability, and counter-indicators to prevent over-criminalization. This framework is relevant for protecting visual aspects of privacy in view of individuals' underlying autonomy interests.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1210-1235
Number of pages26
JournalLaw and Social Inquiry
Volume43
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'The Reasonableness of Remaining Unobserved: A Comparative Analysis of Visual Surveillance and Voyeurism in Criminal Law'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this