Home > Ask Our Experts > Pictures of Me on Facebook: Is This Breach of Privacy?

Pictures of Me on Facebook: Is This Breach of Privacy?

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 30 Jun 2016 | comments*Discuss
 
Privacy Personal Information Photo

Q.

My ex-employer has published pictures of ex-staff including myself on facebook and I find this a breach of privacy. I would have hoped my records would be kept secure and safe. Can I take action against the company which is a well known multi-national company?

(M.L, 11 May 2009)

A.

The Data Protection Act’s principles

The action taken by the ex-employer does seem to be a breach of privacy under the Data Protection Act.

The Act says that anyone who uses personal information has to meet certain data protection principles.

Personal information must be:

  • secure
  • used fairly and lawfully
  • used for limited purposes
  • used in accordance with a person’s rights (such as a right to privacy)
  • Furthermore, employers must not retain personal information for longer than necessary.

From the details given in the question, it’s possible to argue that by placing a picture of an ex-employee on Facebook, the employer may be infringing these principles.

For example, an employer will find it hard to justify retaining a member of staff’s photo after he or she has left. This seems to be “longer than necessary”. In fact under the terms of the Data Protection Act, the employer should have destroyed the picture. After all, why was there a need to keep it?

The employer also appears not to have kept the picture secure; not used it for limited purposes only; not used it fairly; and not respected the right to privacy of the former staff member.

Damage and Distress

Facebook is a social networking site accessed by millions of people across the world. When an employer places a photo of a former staff member on Facebook, the result is hardly respect for privacy. What’s more, the presence of the photo may cause the ex-employee distress and possibly damage.

The distress may be personal. The damage may be to the former staff member’s reputation and career depending on the picture’s context and any accompanying text.

Further Action

The questioner may wish to write to the former employer expressing concern about the picture on Facebook and asking for its removal. At the same time, the letter could ask the ex-employer to explain the reason for putting the picture on a social networking site in the first place.

The letter should avoid reference to the law. If the ex-employer doesn’t give a satisfactory reply, the next stage is to consider using a solicitor to pursue the matter. This can be a costly option but may be necessary to reach a solution.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
I have recently left a company where I used my personal laptop for work purpose which was my employers request and I agreed for the purpose of if i have any technical problems they can down load to my person laptop Remote access so the companies network provider can access and repair the laptop. However now I have left the company to which I did not or was ever requested to sign a computer policy document but since noticed that a lot of files have disappeared from my personal Laptop, I have found out since contacting the company network provider they have entered my laptop at my employer request and deleted files without my permission and will not tell me what they have deleted!! where do I stand and has a crime been commited.as no permission was requested at any point to access my personal data or personal laptop
Cheggers - 1-Jul-15 @ 10:34 PM
I am employed by the NHS and we have been told we must supply the ward with a personal photograph of ourselves so this can be displayed on a staff board at the entranceof the ward. I and many of my colleges are not happy to have our photo on public display how do we stand legally if we continue to refuse.
Debbie - 3-Oct-14 @ 3:36 PM
If I get calls from third parties, such as debt collectors, am I correct in saying that I should not confirm that the person they are asking for works here? Do my workers not have the right to privacy at work? Workers here are told that they they cannot receive personal calls I choose not to confirm whether or not they work here.
T - 15-Jul-13 @ 11:16 AM
Hi, I was recently suspended from work as a colleague I was managing and with whom I had a minor sexual relationship with showed the director all of the personal texts I sent to her which including some of a sexual nature which were welcomed from my colleague when I sent them to her and she replied to them without an issue. Also the director read all other personal private texts about my life and my past. Is this legal and if not what steps should I take? I sent all of the texts from my personal mobile phone and as far as I know the female colleague has not been suspended. I have been informed that if I do not resign I will be dismissed. Kind regards. Peter
Peter P - 30-Jul-12 @ 2:14 PM
Posted a video on facebook last tuesday a friend of mine let my manager look at it without my permission now im up for a disaplinary as im being accused of taking the video while the lorry I was driving was moving but it wasnt.has my data protection been invaded and also my human rights as I know ive done nothing wrong this video has been viewd by numerous workers and it has also been burnt off unto discs what can I do really need help
Stevie G - 27-Feb-12 @ 7:25 PM
Do I have the right to ask my previous employer to delete all personal data held on the archived email system? The role required me to check and add my personal diary as I had to constantly work and travel out of hours. As such, they have kept phone details of my family, and next of kin. In the process of keeping my role, I had to email my partner to check her diary, I would like all personal data to be deleted. Do I have such right?
Famas - 22-Nov-11 @ 7:35 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments