Publishing photographs that show thieves “caught in the act”


Prague Municipal Court has overturned a fine imposed by the Office for Personal Data Protection for releasing a photograph of a shoplifter, which was taken at the exact time that the theft was being carried out. This fine was imposed because material such as a photograph or a video may, according to the Data Protection Act, be procured and exhibited only with the consent of the person who is being photographed. In such a case this can hardly be expected and so, ironically, according to the Office for Personal Data Protection the traders have also broken the law.
But now it is possible that this breakthrough court decision will establish a practice where photos of offenders caught on CCTV recordings can be freely made public in order to prevent other crimes from being committed. According to the Municipal Court a perpetrator that steals someone else's property must count on the fact that he will be subject to different protection of personal identity than a person who is acting in accordance with the law.

However, this verdict can still not be totally relied upon because the Office for Personal Data Protection is considering filing a cassation complaint to the Supreme Administrative Court which could still reverse the Municipal Court's decision. If you are thinking of making a similar photo or video public, we recommend that you delay publication and instead pass it on to the Czech Police because the publication of these materials without the consent of the person concerned could still be sanctioned by the Office for Personal Data Protection.