Everyone has the right to take photos in public spaces, regardless of whether you are a journalist or an ordinary citizen.
But what if you feel uncomfortable with a stranger taking photos of you in public? According to Richmond RCMP, the best solution is to report it to police immediately.
A post on RedBook, a Chinese-language version of Instagram, describes a man being confronted after taking photos of women at Richmond Public Market has gone viral, sparking debate on the issue.
The woman who created the post, and asked to have her name withheld, told the Richmond News that the incident happened on June 14, when her boyfriend noticed a suspicious-looking man taking photos of her with his cell phone at the food court.
Her boyfriend confronted him and demanded to see the photographer’s phone, which he handed over.
“When he (the boyfriend) opened his phone’s albums, I found that the photo album was filled with females’ photos, featuring their faces, legs and even their whole bodies. Although we managed to delete mine, there are still lots of other girls’ photos left on the phone,” she said, noting that she didn’t report the encounter to the police.
“But I want to remind other girls, please report it to the police if you experience the same thing.”
The popular post got more than 118 comments, with several netizens saying they had their photos taken by the same man at different locations in Richmond. One netizen even claimed the man was arrested by RCMP.
Dennis Hwang, spokesman for the Richmond RCMP, told the News officers attended a call at Lansdowne Shopping Centre on June 13, just before 5 p.m. They spoke to a complainant reporting a suspicious occurrence that had happened approximately two months prior.
“This allegedly occurred in a public area whereby an unidentified man was photographing women with his cell phone. We have since located and identified the suspect in this investigation,” said Hwang in an email.
However, Hwang added that it is not unlawful to take photos or videos in a public setting where there is no expectation of privacy, as long as those actions don't amount to voyeurism under the Criminal Code.
Simply put, voyeurism means surreptitiously observing or recording someone who is nude, partially nude or engaged in sexual activity at a location or in a situation where they can reasonably expect privacy.
Meanwhile, RCMP urges people to report these incidents to the police instead of posting them on social media.