Section 7: Privacy

Privacy and Consent

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  1. Children and Vulnerable People
  2. Third Parties
  3. Material from Social Media


When contributors give informed consent to take part in our output, they can be assumed to have waived their expectations of privacy in relation to their contribution, subject to any agreed conditions placed on their participation.

(See Guidance: Privacy and Factual Entertainment)


We should operate openly wherever we are unless we have approval for secret recording.  This is particularly important when our audio-visual equipment is not very obvious as in the case of small video cameras, mobile phone cameras or fixed webcams.  We may need to use notices to make people aware that we are recording and to allow them to avoid us.

(See Section 7 Privacy: 7.4.26)


When filming openly in public and semi-public places, we do not normally obtain express consent from individuals who are incidentally caught on camera as part of the general scene, unless they are engaged in an activity where they have a legitimate expectation of privacy that is not outweighed by a public interest in showing them.

However, if an individual or organisation asks us to stop filming or recording (whether live or recorded) because of a concern about privacy, we should normally do so, unless it is editorially justified to continue.


In potentially sensitive places, for example ambulances, hospitals, schools and prisons, we should normally obtain two separate consents, one for gathering the material and the other for broadcasting it, unless it is justified not to obtain such consents.

(See Guidance: Medical Emergencies)


We normally obtain consent before recording on private property.  However, recording without prior permission may be justified in places where the public has general access, for example a shopping mall, railway station or airport, or where we have reason to believe our recording will aid the exposure of illegal or anti-social behaviour.  When recording without prior consent on private or semi-public property, if the owner, legal occupier or person acting with their authority asks us to stop, we should normally do so unless it is editorially justified to continue.

We normally leave private property when asked to do so by the legal occupier.  We should be aware of the law of trespass.  Accessing private property without consent can constitute a civil wrong, but is not usually a police matter.  Seek advice from Programme Legal Advice if you do not know how to proceed.

(See Section 7 Privacy: 7.4.37)

Children and Vulnerable People


We should pay particular attention to the expectations of privacy of people under 16 and those who are vulnerable.  When children are to be featured in our output in a way that would infringe a legitimate expectation of privacy, we should normally gain their informed consent (wherever possible) and the informed consent of a parent, legal guardian or other person of 18 or over acting in loco parentis.  Featuring vulnerable people may also require the informed consent of a responsible person of 18 or over.

(See Section 9 Children and Young People as Contributors: 9.4.12 - 9.4.23)

Third Parties


The privacy of an individual may be infringed by content that reveals private personal information about them, even if they are not contributing to the programme or directly included in it.  When such information is not already in the public domain (or was placed there only by the intrusive actions of others), the relevant individuals will normally need to give informed consent to its inclusion in our output, unless there is a public interest that outweighs their expectations of privacy.

(See Section 6 Fairness, Contributors and Consent: 6.4.1 - 6.4.9)

Material from Social Media


Although material, especially pictures and videos, on third party social media and other websites where the public have ready access may be considered to have been placed in the public domain, re-use by the BBC will usually bring it to a much wider audience.  We should consider the impact of our re-use, particularly when in connection with tragic or distressing events.  There are also copyright considerations.

(See Guidance: Pictures from Social Media)

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