Personal Devices and Public Spaces

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So have you ever seen someone walking around fully immersed in their phones or really any kind of personal device completely oblivious to what’s going on around them? Maybe, like myself, you’ve seen someone so preoccupied with their phone they’ve almost run into a pole and then you’ve had to try really hard not to laugh and look like a complete weirdo sitting alone at a bench at uni?

Well maybe you don’t have a story that specific like I do but we’ve all done it, and if you say you haven’t then either you’re like my 65 year old Grandmother and technologically impaired or a liar or I mean maybe you’re one of the very few left that can restrict themselves to just walking while walking, it’s hard I know. Personally I feel like sometimes people who always walk around on their phones or other devices constantly are missing out on life around them and sometimes poles right in front of them.

Recently with the release of Pokemon Go this has become a more increasingly prominent issue especially at the university. As my boyfriend has told me, there a SO many Pokemon at the uni and Pokestops and all of that, but not knowing anything about Pokemon and having it all explained to me I can see now why people might be paying more attention to their phones while walking around the University.

For this weeks task we were asked to take a photograph of someone using a personal device in a public space. Unfortunately  I wasn’t able to get a picture of anything like that, the photo I took was from a bench across the duck pond. It’s not totally clear – I was trying to avoid looking like a complete weirdo, alone and talking a picture – but the picture is of other students of the University of Wollongong sitting on the grass outside building 67, playing on their phones, working on uni work, listening to music. All doing something on their personal device in a public space.

Of course there are a number of laws and ethics that come into play when taking photos of people in public that need to be taken into consideration especially for this task. In a photo such as mine, the privacy of those in the photo is kept in tact as you cannot specifically identify anyone in the photo, but in other cases if the face of a person is clear and can be identified then their privacy rights are breached if you do not have their permission. When taking a photo think of it this way, if you were the one having the picture taken of you against your knowledge would you like it?

Laws regarding the privacy of others when taking photos include things such as not being able to take photos of people at the beach or in some schools but lots of this just comes down to being ethical and the people taking the photos to choosing to do the right thing at the end of the day.

 The Arts Law Centre in this weeks readings talks about this as well as the other limitations and rules that should be used and followed when talking pictures such as respecting people to making sure you get a persons permission before taking their photo particularly when the images involve children or going on private property.

So whether you’re using your phone in a public space to take pictures, play Pokemon Go or simply just texting always think about whats going on around you. Make sure to watch where you’re walking and most importantly be mindful of the privacy and rights of those people around you who could be pictured when you’re taking that aesthetic photo for your Instagram.

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