In some countries filming someone without their knowledge or consent could land you with a lawsuit, or worse, for invasion of privacy. It could also do damage to the cause you intend to support if those you intend to video have no idea what your intentions are. More than that, as video activists, we have the ethical responsibility to ensure that no further harm can be caused to people whose rights have already been abused by our videos.

Implied consent, where someone indicates they’re aware they’re on camera, may be enough to get you over the privacy hurdle, but will not protect those who appear in your video. You may not know where your video could end up or how it will be used. In the spur of the moment you may not have time to secure anyone’s consent, but if you do, it’s your responsibility to ensure people are well informed.

  • Ask yourself these few questions:

    • Do the people you are filming know your intentions?

    • Do they know your video will be published, where it might be seen and how far it may spread?

    • Do they know what the Internet is?

    • How can you best protect your sources?

  • Advise your subjects about your video’s intentions. What is it, why are you making it and where do you intend it to go? There may however be situations where you are do not wish to reveal those intentions to your subjects, for example if you are trying to expose practices they are implicated in.

  • Make sure people are aware that if it goes onto the Internet it may be viewed by not only supporters to their cause, but by antagonistic groups too.

  • Finally, you can secure their consent by having them:

    • Sign a consent, or release form;

    • If you’re not carrying hard-copy release forms, get their consent on video;

    • Alternatively, if you’re smart-phone savvy, have their photo, audio or video consent appended to a prepared consent template. Tools such as Evernote™ can be used for such purposes, and particularly useful because you can back these materials up online. However, note that such online tools are not inherently secure. But encryption is possible on Evernote. For a step-by-step guide, go here:

More information