Covering Up: American and European Legal Approaches to Public Facial Anonymity after S.A.S. v France

Tjerk Timan, Bryce C. Newell, and Bert-Jaap Koops (eds) Privacy in Public Space: Regulatory and Legal Challenges (Edward Elgar, 2017)

16 Pages Posted: 10 Dec 2016 Last revised: 21 Jan 2018

See all articles by Angela Daly

Angela Daly

University of Strathclyde - School of Law; Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law; Tilburg University - Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT)

Date Written: December 9, 2016

Abstract

This chapter presents a critical analysis of the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECtHR) decision in S.A.S v France. The implications of the case, concerning the French ban on face coverings, for Muslim women’s religious freedom are well known and have been discussed extensively in the literature. However, one important privacy implication that has been overlooked is the legality of covering one’s face in public, regardless of motivation. The article explores the case’s implications for privacy in public spaces, in the context of the ECtHR’s jurisprudence on privacy more generally. A comparative analysis with the US is undertaken, as various US courts have ruled on the compatibility with anti-mask laws with the Constitution. In the context of increasingly ubiquitous surveillance and blurring of the online/offline and public/private divides in contemporary society, this article determines the (perhaps unintended) consequences of S.A.S v France for individual privacy and anonymity.

Keywords: anonymity, privacy, surveillance, free expression, facial recognition, veil, niqab, anti-mask laws

JEL Classification: N34, K00, K14, K36, K42

Suggested Citation

Daly, Angela, Covering Up: American and European Legal Approaches to Public Facial Anonymity after S.A.S. v France (December 9, 2016). Tjerk Timan, Bryce C. Newell, and Bert-Jaap Koops (eds) Privacy in Public Space: Regulatory and Legal Challenges (Edward Elgar, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2883036 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2883036

Angela Daly (Contact Author)

University of Strathclyde - School of Law ( email )

Lord Hope Building
John Anderson Campus 141 St. James' Rd
Glasgow G4 0LT, Scotland G4 0LT
United Kingdom

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, QLD 4000
Australia

Tilburg University - Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT) ( email )

P.O.Box 90153
Prof. Cobbenhagenlaan 221
Tilburg, 5037
Netherlands

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