Anonymity outside: implications of S.A.S. v France for privacy in public spaces

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter presents a critical analysis of the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in SAS 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 chapter 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 United States is undertaken, as various US courts have ruled on the compatibility of anti-mask laws with the US Constitution. In the context of increasingly ubiquitous surveillance and blurring of the online/offline and public/private divides in contemporary society, this chapter determines the (perhaps unintended) consequences of SAS v. France for individual privacy and anonymity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPrivacy in Public Space
Subtitle of host publicationConceptual and Regulatory Challenges
EditorsTjerk Timan, Bryce Clayton Newell, Bert-Jaap Koops
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781786435392
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2017

Publication series

NameElgar Law, Technology & Society Series


  • public facial anonymity
  • European legal approaches
  • American legal approaches
  • religious freedom
  • privacy

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