The Anti-Cybercrime Department at the Ministry of Interior and several lawyers warned against privacy violation by taking photos or filming others without their knowledge or permission. Officials stressed that such an act could land an offender up to three years imprisonment or fine of KWD 3000, and both in some cases.
The Ministry stipulated that anyone who deliberately abuses or defames others by photographing them without their consent and electronically distributing the photos or videos with the intention of attacking the individual is subject to punishment and penalties.
“Recently, cases of filming various events have increased. Revealing an event or information that is useful and indicates something that may serve a subject, such as filming a theft or an attack, comes from a positive security aspect,” Attorney Muhammad Dhaar Al-Otaibi told a local Arabic paper.
“As for the one who photographed people without their consent in order to protect himself or defend something and did not find a way other than filming to present it, the matter in this case is left to the judge to assess the issue of defamation or not and to ascertain the moral element represented in the intent to offend and defame or not,” he added.
Al-Otaibi also said that Clause (C) of Article 70 of Law No. 37 of 2014 stated that anyone who intentionally offends and defames others by using a device or means of communication or other means to take a picture or more, or a video clip thereof, without his knowledge or consent, or exploited the capabilities of these devices and extracted images from them without his permission, or fabricated a picture contrary to public morals for other people, shall be punished by imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years and a fine of no more than KWD 5000 and not less than KWD 500, or one of these two penalties.
On the other hand, Dr. Faisal Ahmed Al-Haider said that for offenders taking photos of people without criminal intent, whether in private or public, or without their knowledge, the judgment shall remain in the hands of the criminal prosecutor, the convict, and the court. The verdict shall also be determined by investigating the circumstances and interrogating the offender.
“Avoid photographing or filming people through a camera or a mobile phone, or broadcasting them through various social media channels to avoid criminal suspicion, and to avoid investigation through the Public Prosecution or the authorities concerned with the investigation, and then refer to the case file,” Al-Haider said.
He also added that vulgar words and incitement to immorality are a challenge in the criminalization of the photo, that it remains for the legal procedures and investigations to determine that the images may sometimes be used to threaten one’s honor. He noted that crimes related to photography are classified as misdemeanor and felony.
The following are the penalties for offenders:
- A misdemeanor that is punishable by imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years and a fine not exceeding 2,000 dinars, or by one of these two penalties, and the confiscation of equipment or other equipment used in the commission of the crime.
- A felony when sending the image to other people, circulating it by any means, or publishing it on the internet and social networking sites, or any other means.
- A felony in which the perpetrator shall be punished by imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years, a fine not exceeding five thousand dinars, and the confiscation of equipment, or others used in the commission of that crime. The aforementioned acts are also punishable when they are associated with other forms of misconduct such as threats and blackmail, breach of modesty, afflicting symptoms, as well as, incitement to immorality.