Do you have a right to privacy while grieving at an end of life event?

A few weeks ago I officiated at a Celebration of Life Ceremony at a church in Calgary.  At the end of the tribute, I noticed when I returned the headset to the technicians, that they were video recording the event.

Having spoken with the family prior to the event, I had previous knowledge that they were opposed to any photographs being taken.

I asked the technicians if there was a legal requirement for them to be taping, and if the family had prior knowledge or consented to the taping.  They said “no” to both questions.

I followed up with the family and they said they had no knowledge the event was being videotaped.

I followed up with the Privacy Commissioner for Alberta, and they said it is possible for a funeral, memorial or celebration of life ceremony to be videotaped without consent or prior knowledge depending on the church’s policy.  I am of course trying to obtain the policy for this particular venue.  Now that this church has been red flagged for me, I will be sure to encourage families to inquire about the policy (if there is one.)

Certainly, I had no prior knowledge or consented to be videotaped.

When I lived in Halifax, across the street from a funeral home, it is was often the case when someone died due to gang violence or other crime, that there would be a stakeout by police who took photos of all the attendees, without their knowledge.  I knew this because I witnessed their activities and I would often have to ask them to move out of my parking space.

When I observed at a large corporate-run funeral home for a week in 2015, it was the practice of the funeral home to videotape the event, either to stream video into the lounge area or to hand over to police should it be requested.  At least when you walk into the lounge area you know it was on video.  This would also be helpful should it need to be live streamed for those who could not attend.

For families who are grieving, and have no knowledge they are being videotaped, or have not given consent, I am of the opinion that this is a breach of privacy for the families and attendees of the event.

It appears that if you are paying for the use of a funeral home or a church you must inquire what their policy is with respect to videotaping, and most especially if technicians are involved at all with the event you are planning.

You may want to have a copy of the video to share with others or to view again at a later date. You might want to hire your own videographer to record it.  Be sure to let your guests know.

But if you don’t want it videotaped, you might want to protect your right to privacy and ask about the venue’s policy, in this world that seems to be eroding such rights with policies that you might not know to ask about.

One thought on “Do you have a right to privacy while grieving at an end of life event?

  1. Very good points and I think more public knowledge to bring awareness and let people know the policies. For the families and loved ones they are dealing with so much, so it is important to have a clear direction of people’s comfort level.

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