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Israel: Prohibition on Publishing Photos of Injured or Deceased

(Apr. 22, 2011) On March 30, 2011, the Knesset, Israel's legislature, passed an amendment to the Protection of Privacy Law, 5741-1981. The Law prohibits the infringement of the privacy of another person without his consent. It lists various activities that may qualify as a violation of the Law, including spying or trailing a person in a manner likely to harass him; listening to conversations as prohibited under law; infringing a duty of secrecy laid down by law in respect of a person's private affairs; and publishing information about a person's intimate life, state of health, or conduct in the private domain.

The new amendment adds to the list of activities that are viewed as violating privacy the publication of a photograph of an injured person at the time of the injury or shortly thereafter, if it either identifies or embarrasses the person. This prohibition applies to both physical and mental injuries that are clearly apparent, except for a publication of a photograph immediately following an event in a way that does not deviate from what is reasonable under the circumstances.

In addition, the amendment determines that the publication of a photograph of a deceased person in an identifiable way may similarly violate privacy unless one of the following conditions has been met: (1) the deceased had given consent for such publication during his lifetime; (2) 15 years have passed since the subject's death; (3) consent for the disclosure was obtained during the deceased's lifetime from the first among the following who is alive: his spouse, all of his children, his parents, or all of his siblings; or (4) if he had no such relatives, the court approved the publication.

The amendment provides that the deceased's spouse, child, parent, or sibling may lodge a civil suit pursuant to the Law's provisions. (Protection of Privacy Law (Amendment No. 11) 5771-2011 & bill [both in Hebrew], the Knesset website (both last visited Apr. 12, 2011); Protection of Privacy Law, 5741-1981, 35 LAWS OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL 136 (5741-1980/81).)