What is the New Zealand law on taking photos of people and property in public spaces?

Question Details: What is the New Zealand law on taking photos of people and property in public spaces? Are the press and media are also governed by the same law?

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Community Law Wellington & Hutt Valley

The New Zealand law on taking photographs (including filming) people and property in public spaces is governed by the Privacy Act 1993, criminal law and common law.

The New Zealand Police provide useful guidance on taking photos or filming in a public place: www.police.govt.nz

The press and media are governed by slightly different law as well as by industry regulation. This includes the Broadcasting Standards Act 1989 which holds broadcasters (that is, radio stations and television networks) responsible for ensuring their programmes and their presentation maintain individuals' privacy.

The New Zealand Press Council (NZPC) is an industry self-regulatory body that sets standards for newspapers, magazines and periodicals in circulation in New Zealand. The NZPC sets principles for publishers to follow and includes guidance about privacy:

"Everyone is normally entitled to privacy of person, space and personal information, and these rights should be respected by publications. Nevertheless the right of privacy should not interfere with publication of significant matters of public record or public interest.
Publications should exercise particular care and discretion before identifying relatives of persons convicted or accused of crime where the reference to them is not relevant to the matter reported.
Those suffering from trauma or grief call for special consideration."

There are fewer rules about taking photos of property. But you should consider whether a photo of property might breach someone's privacy (for example, a photo of an open handbag) or someone's intellectual property rights (for example, a picture of art someone is selling).

This is a general answer so you might need to get specific legal advice about a particular photo and the reason it is taken.

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