[copied from my reply in yellowdogs guest book because I find this important:]
i find that a poor attitude for a photographer. I Never ask anyone in public if I may or may not take their picture. I am not "taking" anything in the first place, I simply add something. the overarching assumption of us postmodern, juristically challenged, deeply distrusting each other sad excuses for human society members that someone who will "take" your picture is essentially doing mischief is something I chose to ignore - I think as a photographer, if you are interested in taking pictures that make any sense at all, that is the right thing to do. on the other side, there is simply no right of a person that uses public environments to be "not seen", which includes, to be not documented. it's actually a laughable myth that people still believe they are "free" when they move through public space; you are recorded everywhere, by video cams that are supposed to record traffic or security cams, by your mobile devices that constantly record where you are and how you move. to exclude photographers from taking part in this is an oversimplified, in some ways archaic reaction to the old fear of natives that *taking" their pictures means destroying some of their personality - and I personally believe this has to be overcome.
I noticed that in Malaysia, there is way less of that anti-public picture taking hum drum so many westerners with their phony "individualistic" society approach (which basically assumed your right to be anonymous and unseen in public) - this of course has to do with the fact that Asian societies in general are more "social", i.e. you are way more aware of being seen and available for perception any moment you come out of your bathroom - but it also seems to hint at a better understanding of modern life; it is an illusion that we are not constantly monitored, constantly in contact with authorities and each other.
take, as an example, the wide success of "waze" in malaysia: that tool where you contribute to traffic information simply by sending your position within traffic at all your peer drivers via that system. this app never took off here in the west; people simply are too afraid of delivering their "personal" position data too much. while in Malaysia, as far as I saw, it is broadly accepted and utilized.