Ate Up With Motor has lots of photos. Most of them were taken in public places, sometimes by people other than me — at car shows, on the street, and so forth. Inevitably, some of those photos have people in the background. Now, generally, under U.S. law, this kind of editorial usage is not a big deal, since people in public places usually don’t have a “reasonable expectation of privacy”; otherwise, newspapers and news shows could never run crowd shots. However, under the EU’s new GDPR directive and associated local law, any recognizable image of a natural person may be considered personally identifying information, which becomes messy.
The plain reality is this: I usually do not have any reasonable way to know the identities of people who may be visible in the backgrounds of photos (especially in big crowds), nor am I usually able to associate their images with any other information I might have about them. If you’re a regular visitor to Ate Up With Motor and you popped up in the background of some photo taken at a car show five years ago, I probably don’t know it! Also, while some photographers make an effort to obscure the faces of bystanders — I started doing this with my own photos about seven years ago — that isn’t always possible, or successful. (I’ve seen a number of photos where the photographer or editor overlooked the face of someone leaning out a window in the background or something like that.) If a photo isn’t mine, I may not have the right to modify it in that way, and even if I do, the original online source may still have the unmodified, un-obscured original. There’s not usually anything I can do about that.