Privacy in Public Space
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Privacy in Public Space

Conceptual and Regulatory Challenges

Edited by Tjerk Timan, Bryce C. Newell and Bert-Jaap Koops

This book examines privacy in public space from both legal and regulatory perspectives. With on-going technological innovations such as mobile cameras, WiFi tracking, drones and augmented reality, aspects of citizens’ lives are increasingly vulnerable to intrusion. The contributions describe contemporary challenges to achieving privacy and anonymity in physical public space, at a time when legal protection remains limited compared to ‘private’ space. To address this problem, the book clearly shows why privacy in public space needs defending. Different ways of conceptualizing and shaping such protection are explored, for example through ‘privacy bubbles’, obfuscation and surveillance transparency, as well as revising the assumptions underlying current privacy laws.
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Chapter 7: Covering up: American and European legal approaches to public facial anonymity after SAS v. France

Angela Daly


This chapter presents a critical analysis of the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in SAS v. France. The implications of the case, concerning the French ban on face coverings, for Muslim women’s religious freedom are well known and have been discussed extensively in the literature. However, one important privacy implication that has been overlooked is the legality of covering one’s face in public, regardless of motivation. The chapter explores the case’s implications for privacy in public spaces, in the context of the ECtHR’s jurisprudence on privacy more generally. A comparative analysis with the United States is undertaken, as various US courts have ruled on the compatibility of anti-mask laws with the US Constitution. In the context of increasingly ubiquitous surveillance and blurring of the online/offline and public/private divides in contemporary society, this chapter determines the (perhaps unintended) consequences of SAS v. France for individual privacy and anonymity.

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