In 2011, an Irish site called Luas Crush was shut down following intervention by the Data Protection Commissioner, who was less than pleased by the idea of user-submitted photos of men snapped on the Luas being posted online for the delectation of strangers.
The legal principles here involve privacy and data protection.
What is needed is not law – we have law enough already – but a consensus to take the notion of privacy in a public place seriously.
Reams have been written about the power of the gaze, the imbalance between the viewer and the viewed. The middle class sneering at the dress sense or social graces of the working class.
Most shared unauthorised images depend for their popularity on just this disparity. The issue is this – if you go around taking photos of people without their knowledge, you are being a creep.
Women, for example, often have more reason to feel vulnerable in public places than men do.
To act otherwise and take unauthorised snaps at will is to abuse that vulnerability.