At first blush, it seems correct of the Supreme Court to quash the conviction of a man who photographed teen girls in their swimwear at a Nelson beach.

Graham Rowe took pictures of three teenage girls on Kaiteriteri beach and was convicted after a jury trial of doing an indecent act with intent to insult.

However, in the Supreme Court, Rowe argued the photos alone could not amount to an indecent act, nor could taking photos of what may ordinarily be seen in public comprise an offence. The Supreme Court this week quashed the conviction.

We have long held in this country that if you are in a public place then you can legally be photographed.


Much the same as CCTV cameras may capture you in the street, at public parks, businesses and even out in the countryside – you never know who is watching.

Parents regularly upload images to social media of their children doing cute or silly things.

And we might pop up there, too, from time to time as friends, family or even complete strangers may capture us in the corner of one of their selfies, or in the crowd at a concert or community event.

Rather than becoming more stringent, privacy is something we are letting go bit by bit these days.

But the case does create a nagging sense of unease.

While no evidence was found of any indecent images on the photographer's computer, or any evidence that he intended to share the pictures he took, it was his actions of concealing himself while doing so that sounded alarm bells.

He may have acted legally, but was he behaving morally?

Family First argues that children have a right to privacy.


"Most parents," says Family First's national director Bob McCoskrie, "would find it unacceptable for a total stranger to be taking secret photos of their children."

Perhaps there needs to be a national conversation around privacy laws, especially when it comes to taking images of people in public places, and with thought given to young people and a possible age at which more stringent rules kick in.

Meantime, best not to expose that beer belly at the beach next summer, lest it turn up in your news feed.