The reasonableness of remaining unobserved: A comparative analysis of visual surveillance and voyeurism in criminal law

Bert-Jaap Koops, Bryce Newell, Andrew Roberts, Ivan Skorvánek, Masa Galic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-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.
LanguageEnglish
JournalLaw & Social Inquiry
StatePublished - 2018

Fingerprint

voyeurism
reasonableness
criminal law
privacy
surveillance
criminalization
sanction
autonomy
Law

Keywords

  • visual surveillance, voyeurism, criminal law, comparative analysis

Cite this

@article{e567bc7641fb4775821c50052b747007,
title = "The reasonableness of remaining unobserved: A comparative analysis of visual surveillance and voyeurism in criminal law",
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.",
keywords = "visual surveillance, voyeurism, criminal law, comparative analysis",
author = "Bert-Jaap Koops and Bryce Newell and Andrew Roberts and Ivan Skorv{\'a}nek and Masa Galic",
year = "2018",
language = "English",
journal = "Law & Social Inquiry",

}

The reasonableness of remaining unobserved : A comparative analysis of visual surveillance and voyeurism in criminal law. / Koops, Bert-Jaap; Newell, Bryce; Roberts, Andrew; Skorvánek, Ivan; Galic, Masa.

In: Law & Social Inquiry, 2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - The reasonableness of remaining unobserved

T2 - Law & Social Inquiry

AU - Koops,Bert-Jaap

AU - Newell,Bryce

AU - Roberts,Andrew

AU - Skorvánek,Ivan

AU - Galic,Masa

PY - 2018

Y1 - 2018

N2 - 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.

AB - 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.

KW - visual surveillance, voyeurism, criminal law, comparative analysis

M3 - Article

JO - Law & Social Inquiry

JF - Law & Social Inquiry

ER -