Should your image be private?

I have been involved in a project  to provide  ID cards across the 7,000ish staff we have. This is a whole saga in itself and at first glance nothing to do with the web, but a very significant part of the project has come up with web related  issues – or at least Intranet related issues.

Because our new ways of working projects provide ‘touchdown points’ across the county where people can go into work , there is a need to prove who you are when you turn up at an office you have never been to before. ID cards with pictures, micro-print, Braille and other security devices cover this fairly successfully but what happens if someone turns up without a card or with one that looks a bit dodgy?

GEORGE, our intranet, has a people finder which is being populated with staff data and part of that data is the use of the card pictures. That way the receptionists in our buildings can check on people finder to decide whether to let the non card holder or the dodgy card holder in or not.

GEORGE is only available as an internal tool but there has been  a very small number, not much more than a handful, who have taken exception to their “Copyright Image” – their words – appearing on these pages. (I’m not at all sure ones image is ones copyright?) They are suggesting colleagues might copy them and do nefarious things with their image.

Of course we can disable the right mouse click with a piece of JavaScript – over 99% of our machines run JavaScript and all new machines are thus enabled,  so that prevents the simple ‘right mouse click and copy’ issue raised by some of this group. Even with that disabled there are other ways of copying the picture with the ability to do much the same as if you had right mouse clicked. So that’s a pretty pointless activity really.

The issue therefore is that as it is impossible to totally prevent these pictures from being copied – unless of course somebody out there knows different – should we allow folks to not have their picture on the intranet?

My vote would be to disallow opt out as I feel employees should partake in a security system designed to protect themselves as well as others.

The ‘protection of  privacy’ issue on an internal only system is, in my opinion, a ‘code of conduct’ issue, where the copying of images, and any misuse of those copied pictures,  should have some repercussions on the perpetrator. In my view to opt out because others may copy etc etc  shows an unhealthy  level of distrust in colleagues.

So the questions are …

  • Does anybody have staff pictures viewable on their internal systems?
  • If so, is it mandatory?
  • What do you do about dissenters?
  • Is your image your copyright?

Your views would be appreciated.