It has been a hectic week. The only thing you look forward to now is your monthly spa session at your favourite local spa centre. Everything seemed as per usual during your treatment. The cool sensation of the facial mask tingles your skin, the cucumbers over your eyes were soothing—it was all relaxing until...you hear the beautician “explain” the procedure of the treatment you were undergoing. Hmm...funny how she has never done that before.
Once your session ended, you check your phone and see a message from a friend saying she saw you getting your facial done—on Facebook! You immediately ask the beautician whether she took any pictures of you while you were undergoing treatment. She admits, saying that your facial treatment was livestreamed on their Facebook page to thousands of followers. (NOTE: The law applies similarly for any form of recording: videos, photos, livestream etc.)
Now, you’re both shocked and angry because firstly, she never got your permission to record you and second, thousands of people would now know the secret to your radiance and beauty—okay, maybe the latter isn’t much of a concern.
Here’s a little backstory on how this article came about: One of our readers actually faced a similar situation and asked us if she could do anything about it.
So this led us to find out if it is legal for beauticians to take pictures or videos of their customers during treatment?
There are no laws stopping someone from taking pictures
Generally, there are no laws in Malaysia prohibiting that person from taking pictures of you—in public. However, it’s important to note that this excludes any picture or video that might be humiliating or insulting to you.
If someone takes a lewd picture to humiliate or make you look bad, they can be charged under Section 509 of the Penal Code which states the following:
So if this happened in a beauty centre (ie; a spa, beauty parlour, salon etc.) and the beautician takes any pictures/videos that can damage your reputation or humiliate you, then you have the right to sue them.
But what if it was just a normal video of you being given a facial treatment—and the beautician takes the video where she explains the treatment procedure to a live audience? Well, so long as it is done with your consent, there is no issue here.
However, even if the beautician does not get your permission and filmed you, she’s still NOT AT FAULT...legally.
Now, before you stop visiting spas and beauty centres altogether, you might want to read on.
The beautician may record your facial but...
While Malaysian law recognises our right to privacy, suing someone for an invasion of privacy is slightly more difficult. The victim would need to prove an extra element, such as humiliation, harassment, or damage to someone’s reputation for any action to be taken.
If the spa centre or beautician posts any pictures or videos of you during your treatment and you feel that it might potentially damage your good name, then you may have grounds to sue them for defamation or for insulting your modesty (as mentioned above).
But if you cannot prove the 2 grounds stated above, the beautician technically did not commit any wrongdoing—as she did not physically intrude your privacy. In other words, there are no specific laws on the invasion of privacy in Malaysia. Most cases involving privacy relies on previous court decisions (precedence).
So, if you want to sue the spa centre for taking pictures or videos of you and posting them on their social media page, chances of you to do so would be slim—unless you have endured some kind of trauma or humiliation which came from invasion of privacy.
Now, this does not mean there are no regulations stopping spas and its workers from filming you...
Beauty centres have a set of guidelines to follow
In 2013, the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism (KPDNKK) came up with some guidelines for the beauty industry in Malaysia. Those who work as beauticians, beautician, beauty consultants and spa therapists among others, are bound to these regulations.
The Guidelines state the general and prohibited services that can be offered in beauty centres. It also includes the Code of Ethics that need to be followed by beauticians or aestheticians in the industry.
Part 7.1(iv) states the following on taking photos and videos of customers:
The code of ethics basically states that beautician must get permission from their client before and after treatment. If they fail to do so, customers have the right to make a complaint to KPDNKK on their site or call their hotline: 1-800-886-800.
But just to be extra cautious, it is always good to inform the beautician on what you do and do not allow during the treatment. Some centres ensure their clients sign a contract before undergoing any procedure. Perhaps it would help to read through the terms and look out for relevant clauses that involve photography and customer reviews.