A bid to make it an offence to take someone's picture in public without their permission was thrown out by the Court of Appeal yesterday. In a two-to-one ruling against the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, the court said while photographs could be classed as personal data, taking an individual's picture did not necessarily amount to data collection. Data collection involved the data-user compiling information about an identified person or someone whom they intended or sought to identify, the ruling said. Eastweek magazine photographed a woman in a street without her consent or knowledge and used it in a fashion column, referring to her as a 'Japanese mushroom head'. Her dress sense was also criticised. The woman complained to the commissioner, whose findings were upheld by Mr Justice Brian Keith in a judicial review launched by Eastweek. The issue before both the commissioner and the judge was whether the means by which the photograph had been taken were fair. Both found them unfair. However, the Court of Appeal said one must first prove an act of personal data collection, Mr Justice Robert Ribeiro said. Together with Mr Justice Gerald Godfrey, he ruled Eastweek had not collected data. He said: 'What is crucial here is the complainant's anonymity and the irrelevance of her identity so far as the photographer, the reporter and Eastweek were concerned.' Mr Justice Michael Wong Kin-chow dissented.