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Citizens may indeed police officers filming

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Police shoot and those images online is not an offence, it appears from a recent judgment of the court of appeal in Ghent.

Four years ago, there was a lot of to do. The Bruges blogger Didier Eeckhout had on a terrace in his home town, a fight filmed between a cafébaas and a customer, which resulted in a racist shouting. The police intervened, Eeckhout continued filming, although the agents him repeatedly aanmaanden to stop. He posted the video on his blog, in his own words, to ‘racism in Bruges’, to denounce, not to get the police to certify, that during the whole operation, incidentally, flawlessly worn.

300 euro fine

The video of Eeckhout went viral, and then argued to the filming of police officers, by law, to prohibit. The Bruges agents served a complaint against the blogger. In november 2016, the man was sentenced to a fine of 300 euros, with deferment for a period of three years, for violation of the privacy act. According to the criminal court in Bruges could Eeckhout not rely on the freedom of the press.

The court of appeal in Ghent has that conviction was recently reversed, writes Dirk Voorhoof, an emeritus professor of media law at the university of Ghent, today in The Juristenkrant. The judgment dated 20 september, but will now come under the attention.

The court takes into account the right to freedom of expression of Ones as a (citizen)journalist. It was clearly intended to be a case of racism to film, a matter of public interest, and not the agents in question to disrupt their work or them in a bad light. In Belgium there is actually no law that prohibits police officers to film in the public space. Of the violation of the privacy of the agents is therefore, according to the court, no question. The agents will not go for appeal in cassation against the judgment.

Everything is context

According to Voorhoof is the judgment is important because, as he writes, ” makes clear that the application of the protection of personal data must be taken into account with the context. A ban on the filming and the punishment of beeldverslaggeving about raids would indeed be tantamount to a blatant disregard of the press and uitingsvrijheid.’

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