In its February 2010 issue, the magazine had run an article titled “Wanted! The epic boobs girl!” and offered 500 British pounds sterling to readers who successfully solicited the woman to pose for Loaded. The young woman said in her complaint that she was 15 at the time the photos were taken. Says The Guardian:
The magazine, in contesting the complaint, explained that it was commenting on pictures that had been given extremely wide circulation on the net and pointed out that the complainant’s photograph had featured in the top three of a Google image search on the word “boobs”.
The commission did sympathise with the woman, and accepted that the tastefulness of the article was questionable. However, the issue for the PCC was whether the publication of the information was intrusive, and it decided that it was not.
The article does not appear to have a Web counterpart on the Loaded site.
The case raises interesting questions about our notions of privacy, and who bears responsibility when photos uploaded onto the Internet become widely disseminated. It’s hard to imagine that the transition from online message boards to the printed page marks the point where the most damage has been done. But it’s worth noting that the official complaint came against Loaded, an institution of legal standing, rather than the Internet, an entity to which current privacy law — in the UK and elsewhere — has a difficult time assigning blame.