Implied Consent

I’ve become leery of attending events because it’s becoming normalized to give my “implied consent” for the host to use pictures/video of me as an attendee.  For example, in December 2016 I attended an event at the Royal Ontario Museum [ROM] called ROM Friday Night Live. As I entered the building, a sign explained that the event retained the rights to use any photos or video with me however they wanted.

I remember encountering this as a student at the University of British Columbia, which was often used by studios to film movies and television shows.  When filming was going on there were always large signs around the area essentially saying that if we were caught on film the company had the right to use it without getting our explicit consent.  I often tried to go around these areas, but sometimes it just wasn’t possible.

Last year at my Canadian citizenship ceremony something similar happened. Prior to attending the ceremony I was sent a consent form basically giving the Canadian government the right to use any images/video taken of me during the ceremony in perpetuity for whatever they wanted. I should also mention that the consent form I received was incomplete due to a routine printing error and it wasn’t entirely clear what I was signing consent for since some of the text was missing.

I inquired about other options and was told that I could attend a separate ceremony, with no photos/video, which didn’t yet have an assigned date.  Eventually I signed the form because I had already been waiting over a year, but I felt annoyed about the whole thing.

It’s bad enough I feel self-conscious going out with friends because I never know when, where, or how I will end up being posted on somebody’s social media.  Now I feel super self-conscious about attending events, even private ones.  I’m not comfortable with my image being used without my permission, or without even knowing where the image will appear!

One solution is to avoid events, but that is neither a practical nor fun solution.  Even knowing that ROM Friday Night Live may use my image isn’t enough to deter me from going.  However, it does make me think twice before attending other events which may have a similar sign at the entrance.

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