My regular correspondent, Dodge, has written.  He says:

I think I touched on this subject before but I have found an article that relates to legislative controls about the use of an dissemination of on scene photos while this article is American I would like your input on whether such legislation is needed here and your thoughts on the article in general as it relates to Australian law.

The link for this article is

It’s a good article and worth reading.   Do I think such legislation is needed here?  As the author of the article, David Givot, says “As for the new law in N.J., it makes terrific sense. If you don’t want such a law in your state, don’t give your legislature a reason to pass one.”

I’m not familiar of cases where emergency responders have taken photos and then distributed them online.  In the absence of any problem, a legislature is unlikely to see passing such a law as important, but if responders start taking and distributing these sorts of photos, then the need for such a law may become apparent.    The issue is probably not so important when, as in Australia, responders are largely employees or volunteers of government agencies and so are subject to internal discipline by the government.  It would be different if there was a large supply of private ambulance and fire companies who were not subject to direct government control and so the government may feel the need to regulate them and their staff by law, as it could not do so directly by terminating their employment or ability to volunteer.

Divot’s recommendations, to ensure that this does not become an issue, make good sense.  He says: .

  • Make sure your agency has a written policy regarding any on-scene photography: Who, how, why, when.
  • Establish security measures and procedures that strictly control and track all images captured.
  • Do not, under any circumstance, transmit scene photographs electronically to anyone for any reason.
  • Designate specific individuals authorized to capture images on an emergency scene.
  • Specify the image-capturing device. Do NOT use any device capable of transmitting data or images electronically, such as tablets or cell phones.

I have previously noted that the NSW State Rescue Board has a photographic policy as part of the State Rescue Policy (see, clause 1.55 and Appendix B).

Michael Eburn.