People Taking Pictures on the Streets of Saudi Will Be Fined SR 500,000

Street photography is one hobby that a lot of people share these days given the convenience provided by smartphones that come equipped with a camera. Needless to say, there are instances when pictures are used for cyber crimes or to violate the rights of people through the web.

Social media in particular is one place to share pictures which may possibly violate the rights of other people especially when the photo is taken without their consent or permission. Pictures can be used for blackmail although uploading someone else’s picture may just be construed as a mistake. For instance, if you take a picture with some stranger in the background and that stranger complains, he has a right to sue you.

Many foreign nationals who reside in the Kingdom are not aware of the country’s culture and they simply click their cameras without care. However, if someone who is captured in a picture which has been uploaded in social media complains, the person who took the photo may be penalized for committing a cybercrime with SR 500,000 or it may lead to life imprisonment.

Suhair Al-Ghamdi who is the public operations officer issued a statement that people in the Kingdom consider it as a felony if their women’s photographs are uploaded in social media even if it was committed by mistake or with no ill intention.

Many emigrants snap pictures while outside their homes and upload these images without knowing that this could lead to imprisonment. To address this, A government media advisor named Abdulaziz Al-Aqeel tells the Saudi Gazette that no one should shoot street photographs without first getting a permit from the country’s Ministry of Culture and Information. “A photographer who attends an event should wear a badge that shows what organization he or she works for. A photographer should not publish or post a photo online without the permission of the person appearing in the photo,” he says.

This rule is still applicable for official photographers who are covering an event who must always bring their ID card as proof that they are taking photos for an event where they are authorized to do so.

It cites Article 3 of the 2007 cybercrime law, which says that anyone who snaps a cell phone photo that violates someone’s privacy rights and then posts the photo to social media should be punished with one year in jail or a fine of up to 500,000 Saudi Riyals (~$130,000).

Needless to say, there are clear specifications made by the Saudi Government that anyone who takes pictures and subsequently uploads them without the consent of the person concerned will be identified as a cyber-criminal. This move is done to protect the privacy of the Kingdom’s citizens as many females feel threatened about having their pictures uploaded online.

Photography is undoubtedly a hobby but people should know that it is disrespectful to take a picture of someone without their permission not only in the Kingdom but anywhere in the globe.

Since Saudi Arabia is not a liberal country, anyone who is in the Kingdom need to realize that laws such as taking photos without permission from the person concerned will not only lead to penalties but could also be offensive to its citizens.


h/t: Saudi Gazette | Al Arabiya