The Association of Professional Photographers (APP) has become informed of and discussed the forthcoming amendments  to the Personal Data Protection Act and its Management Board has issued the following statement:

No photographic organizations were involved during the discussions, concerning the amendments to the PDPA, hence this has allowed for possible legal cases, affecting our rights, for which reason we take the liberty of presenting the following comments, pertaining to our profession.

Within the published Draft Law for amendment and supplementing the Personal Data Protection Act we do not find any exemptions or explanations in regard to photographic activity. It is stated that an image depicting an individual, in which he or she can be identified immediately or directly is considered ‘personal data’, as provisioned in the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) ,and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The part of the draft Law concerning portrait photography contains some problematic cases when someone might recognise themselves in the image hence that exerts more pressure on professional photographers to have more releases and similar documents signed.

The case of people accidentally photographed on the street remains unaddressed. When an interesting situation arises or someone walks by, the situation is of photographic interest just because the individual does not know he or she is being photographed. In this case the photograph could be destroyed by its author due to the obligation to ask permission to use it from the individual. This provision puts in jeopardy the everyday activities of photojournalists.

The legislative body that would vote for the amendment in the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) should make an exception for photographers. In should include a provision for photographers on duty, having a legitimate interest who do not need to comply to the strict rules and regulations on having to request consent prior to photographing an individual.

If the current Personal Data Protection Act is amended with the provisions, there would be cases when an individual could seek protection under the GDPR directive to counteract someone who had taken a picture of them without their consent – which could become an issue in the field of documentary and events photography.

Threats involving excessive fines could follow and this would harm the public access to information.

The Regulation allows for national parliaments to amend it. Some exceptions for photographers could be included within the amendment of the PDPA. Article 89 – which can alleviate the work of all people involved in archiving and documenting activities – has already been debated in Germany. An opportunity for protection of the rights and work of photographers as well as the media, in a broader context can be put there.

We, the APP members, though the Management Board, call on the Bulgarian legislator not to put into effect these measures restricting the work of professional photographers and to make an exception for the art photographic industry to prevent the inconvenience caused by the provision in Article 13 of GDPR.

We hope that the Bulgarian legislator would react quickly and would use the many derogations provisioned for clarification of the norms set out in the Regulation within the national legistaltive sysytem of EU member states.

APP Management Board