I occasionally see car drivers parking on the bike lane that I am using. Usually I take a picture of the car and send if off to the city, they issue a parking ticket. These days I had a case where the driver was still sitting inside of the car while I took the picture. He has approached me and vehemently insisted that I delete the picture as I have no right to take the picture. After I didn't do that, he took a video of me while telling me to delete the picture. And he went quite out of his way to insult me with quite low blows.

From my knowledge of the law during that situation I am allowed to take pictures in public, but not publish them without the person's consent. If it is in a crowded location, say the cathedral in Cologne, I don't need permission from everyone as it is a crowd.

I read a couple of things today and saw that it is not permissible to take pictures of a single person in public. So if I took a zoom lens like a private detective and took pictures, that would not be okay. In this particular situation I did not mean to take a picture of the person, but just the car. Incidentally the reflection on the windshield is so strong that one cannot see the inside of the car anyway, but I didn't know that in the situation.

He thinks that he parked legally and that I have no right to take a picture of him. I think that he parked illegally and that I may take a picture, just not publish it. My research leaves me with the impression that I may be on the wrong here and I must not have taken this picture.

  • It is legal to take such pictures. quora.com
  • It is not legal to take pictures of anyone without consent. finanzfrage.net
  • It is not legal to take pictures of offenders, but if one is the one victim (in this case fence owner), it is an exception and allowed to take such pictures. But as I am just a third party in this situation (it is city vs. parking offender), and it is the city's job to prosecute this, this exception does not apply to me. haufe.de
  • Taking the picture to send to the city administration is fine, but publishing is not. advocard.de
  • One needs to take personality rights into account (but they don't specify what that means). autozeitung.de
  • As parking offenses are just misdemeanors, there might be issues with the privacy rights of the offender. (Also not specified further.) anwalt.de
  • License plates should not be published. It does not say anything about people, though. rp-online.de

It seems that it actually is against the personality rights, even if I do not publish the picture and just send it to the city. I am annoyed that my city is so inactive regarding parking offenders, and it seems that I cannot report cases where the person is visible on the pictures? How does this actually work in the German law?

  • 2
    All of the resources you've found (and the responses you mentioned in the answer) are roughly in line with each other, save for that useless Quora answer. The Haufe site is high quality, but the article is slightly old. As you are just an unrelated third party to this traffic violation, your interest in enforcement does not outweigh the personality rights of the driver. However, recording the license plate is likely OK because it's strictly necessary to effectively report this violation.
    – amon
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 13:12
  • 1
    By a quick glance it will depend on the question if your way on the bike lane is a protected individual right. The case law seems to be on topics where it is clear that individual rights are affected (it may be rightful) or really clear that such are not affected (the picture may be illegal).
    – K-HB
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 19:03

1 Answer 1


I have had a phone call with the city department for traffic infractions. I was told that I did not have the right to take the picture with the person visible. Sending the picture with the person pixelated might be an option, but they were not entirely sure whether the car driver could file a complaint in this case.

On a different website a lawyer specializing in traffic law said that it is not clear how something like that would be ruled, there are indeed personality considerations.

In the end, the advice from the city was to just take the pictures from behind and this way stay clear of all the trouble.

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