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Filming People in Thailand Without Consent

Transcripts of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing filming people in Thailand without consent. I want to preface this video by saying this is an opinion piece in the sense of a personal bunch of observations. We do go into talking about some legal, we cite some laws here. I have had the Thai Legal team in the office here, we have all gone over this, had this vetted. To be clear I am not a Thai Attorney, I am an American Attorney. I am a naturalized Thai citizen, I am the Managing Director of the firm but I have had the Thai Attorney's look at this. I kind of looked at it from a comparative law standpoint as well. 

The reason for this topic and I further would preface this by saying we are not talking about filming people in Thailand for lack of a better term "inadvertently" or just in the course of dealing with one's own filming, whatever that may be. Further we are also not talking about movie filming. That is a different thing. What we are more talking about is this phenomenon, and I noticed it has been increasingly pervasive. When I first got out here some 14 years ago, we just didn't see this. Now there is a camera attached to everything. Phones, iPads, iThis, iThat; everything has a camera on it but people were not filming people in Thailand, especially Bangkok or down at the resort areas just filming sort of wantonly all the time, just ubiquitously for lack of a better term. I am not trying to be curmudgeonly here and have a problem with people that are taking videos to send home to people or photos or selfies or any of that or even YouTube, or folks that are streaming on Facebook, doing any of that type of thing. I am more talking about people that just overtly film or sometimes covertly film and just seem to do it, also we are talking about this in the context of video calls and things; this just wasn't around 12 years ago. The law does not evolve to pick up the newest. It looks backwards. The law always looks backwards, it is not forward looking. Technology has moved very quickly and arguably Thai Law has not come around to fully answer the nuances on this overall question of filming people without their permission.

What I am talking about is when people are in the major entertainment areas and I am not talking about anything untoward but just outdoor dining and things, and it might be a result of folks having been in quarantine for prolonged periods of time. They did a lot of video-calling people during that time period so this has become more normalized for lack of a better term and folks just think "oh, that is okay, I can do that out and about." My thing is again, if you do a video call to someone and then you are done and what not okay and somebody happens to get picked up in the background or you do a quick panorama of a view to send to somebody you know via a messenger service, and it picks up somebody that just happens to be there, that is not what we mean when we were looking at this. What were you talking about is, and it seems to be increasingly prevalent in this environment where a lot of people have online presences that involve video streaming etc. or they are video-calling folks, but the long and the short of it is and I can get a little adamant about this, I don't particularly want to be in your video chat with your loved one or your friend or whatever who is however far away. I don't really love the notion of being in the background. Again, if I fall in the background inadvertently, I am not freaked out by every camera I see. But to do it in a prolonged manner, it is just something that I have seen it a lot recently actually and some people have asked me about it too and so we decided to go ahead and make this videos. Let's be clear. The Thai Law does not overtly say "no you cannot video tape people out and about" but there are some laws that seem to pertain to the issue of for lack of a better term "getting into other people's space." Filming them without permission in a way is getting into their space. There is the old adage that "your rights end at my front door". In a sense, your rights end in the superficies of my visage, at the surface of my face is where your right to film anything you ever want to ends. Again, I am not talking about this in a reactionary manner of "Oh no, you took a frame of me!" No. Or "You inadvertently picked me up when you were walking around with your selfie stick." No. We are talking about prolonged filming or moreover, when asked to stop. Is there any legal reason why people should stop if they are asked to stop filming folks? 

I am going to go ahead, like I said, I am not a Thai Attorney. This is for informational purposes only. These are English language translations of relevant Thai Law so they should not be viewed as dispositive. This is just for informational purposes but some information that we thought was rather relevant to the overall topic. Again, we are talking really about where it really becomes unreasonable where again not just a little bit of filming or not just say someone was filming and you asked them to stop and they stopped. If you are on their video for a second whatever, and they stopped, I don't think that that is a big deal. But, where folks are ambivalent or uncooperative about stopping their filming, and I have seen this in situations recently and over the course of the past few months, that is kind of what we are talking about the context of this video. 

The first segment of law that my colleagues and I found interesting came from the Personal Data Protection Act, B.E. 2562, section 19 paragraph 1: "The data controller shall not collect use or disclose personal data unless the data subject (that is the person whose date is being taken, one could maybe a little bit of a stretch, but one could say you know the person whose likeness data is being taken) has given consent prior to or at the time of such collection. Use or disclosure except in the case where it is permitted to do so by the provisions of the act or any other laws." So again bit of a stretch on the Personal Data Protection Act but moving to the Criminal Code. Quoting directly from section 397: "Whoever in a public place or before the public, does by any means whatever to annoy or intimidate," Annoy or intimidate; there was a little bit of nuance on the notion of intimidate, bully was bandied about, so intimidate or bully, but intimidate in the English language we thought summed it up, "another person or," these are all ORs okay. It is not and, this isn't taken as a whole. Any one of these things could be construed as a problem, "or causes the other person to be ashamed or troubled shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding one month or fined not exceeding 5,000 baht or both." 

So again section 397, quoting directly: “Whoever in a public place or before the public, does by any means whatever to annoy or intimidate another person or causes the other person to be ashamed or troubled, shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding one month or fined not exceeding 5,000 baht or both." 

So again, this video isn't really being taken to call anyone out. It is more taken as a warning. If somebody comes up to you and says "hey you have been filming a while. I don't know what you are doing but can you stop?" and you don't you can have real problems even in a criminal context in Thailand. Again, it might be a stretch. It is all going to be fact dependent. This is not to be viewed as a dispositive video on the topic in general but just some insight into some problems that can come from filming people without consent in the Kingdom of Thailand.