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Do They Have the Right to Use My Photo on Website?

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 7 Jun 2023 | comments*Discuss
Do They Have The Right To Use My Photo On Website?


I have a very small issue in the scheme of things, but your advice would be welcome.

Do I have the right to refuse the use of my personel picture on the companies Web Site?

(Mr David Richards, 5 September 2008)


This issue touches on a couple of different areas. The first, and most important, is data protection, and the other is your employee contract.

The Data Protection Act 1998 would seem to apply in this instance. They have a policy on the use of images. Under that, the company would need to obtain your consent before they use your photo, and tell you where it will be used and for what purpose.

Having your picture taken for staff ID is one thing, but having them put it online is another. A staff ID picture that gives you access to buildings and offices can only be used for that purpose without your specific consent, and you should be given the choice, as well as being made aware of any security risks. It doesn’t matter whether the picture is used on the Internet or simply on a company Intranet, you still have to give your specific permission. If you don’t want your picture used, the company should respect your choice.

The whole issue of privacy and data protection in images was highlighted recently when Google announced it was adding Street View photos to its Google Maps. This involves taking pictures on streets, which include cars and people. There has been a debate regarding the use of these pictures without consent, and Google will blur the faces and number plates in order that none of them can be recognised in order to comply with the Data Protection Act.

However, and it can be a big however, there’s also the issue of employee contracts to consider.

Employee contracts – and all employees should have one, even if it’s just very basic – cover the terms of employment. It might be a contract, it might be a handbook, it can even be a verbal agreement. You’ll need to read that carefully to see if you’ve given the company the right to use your photo on their web site. If it’s in there, then, by signing the contract, you’ve given them the right to use the picture. If it’s not in the employee contract, then they’ll need your permission to comply with the Data Protection Act.

This might seem a small matter, but it isn’t. Privacy and data protection, especially breaches of it, have been in the news a lot lately, and need to be taken very seriously indeed.

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