UK photographers plan protest against new anti-photo laws

Discussion in 'News' started by carlosmiller, Feb 15, 2009.

  1. Hundreds of photographers will gather Monday at London’s Scotland Yard to protest a new law that could land a photographer in prison for ten years for photographing a police officer.
    Read more here.
  2. Is this for real? That's a police-state law! It means they guy who filmed the Rodney King beating would have been a criminal instead of a hero. Something is very wrong here.
  3. This law seems excessive. They should have encouraged people to make pictures if they wanted to squelch crime and terrorism. Not only will people not like these ideas; but, the police themselves won't want it, either. This kind of law not only fails to effectively protect people; it burdens the protectors; and then comes the useless paperwork, at the street cop level. I'm sure what every beat cop needs is another ridiculous law, with no real impact, that's going to generate lots of angry people and mountains of paperwork reports. I bet there's a police academy recruiter hanging out right now at some office supply place because we all know that policeman love stationery.
  4. I wish I had the time available to joint that protest.
  5. @ Edward Horn
    As I understand, if was to ask the military personnel I photograph playing polo how they are and where they are based at the moment, it 'elicits or attempts to elicit information about (members of armed forces) ... which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism'.'elicits or attempts to elicit information about (members of armed forces) ... which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism'.
    However, members of the goverment will continue to lose or leave behind laptops full of sensitive material in their usual manner and members of the civil service will continue to lose disks full of peoples' information in the post as they have always done.
  6. That's a police-state law! It means they guy who filmed the Rodney King beating would have been a criminal instead of a hero. Something is very wrong here.​
    No it doesn't. It means the police could have mis-quoted this law to illegally arrest him and to get his images. However, the guy filming the beating would have to be released without charge eventually because he was not taking pictures likely to be useful to someone planning an act of terrorism.
    The problem is not in the law itself but the idea that it will be mis-used, much like the current terrorism act.
  7. When you go to a store like Walmart or CVS you expect to be viewed by any number of security cameras. These are businesses and they have an interest in seeing that people pay for the goods they sell rather than stealing them. You would also expect certain places like airports to have security cameras so that unauthorized people do not have access to planes or supplies or baggage. Where things start to get murky is when security cameras start to appear randomly in public places. A person has a right to wonder what they are doing there and how they might be used not only to find criminals or prevent crime but to infringe on the rights of privacy or association or movement which citizens in a democratic country expect. It is well documented that red light cameras cause an inordinate number of crashes, injuries and fatalities. They make drivers nervous and behave in ways which they wouldn't otherwise do.
    In my town three police patrol cars are now equipped with special scanners facing forward and backward. These scanners photography the license plate of every vehicle whether parked or moving. If a suspicious plate comes up there is an alarm sounded as well as flashing lights inside the car. The reason could be anything from a suspected kidnapping to a vehicle registration which is one minute and seventeen seconds out of date. I hope some good will come of these new methods but I am skeptical. At the same time that someone in a parked car is pulled over for the expired registration a hijacked plane full of passengers might be crashing into a building. Does anyone really think that the new police car scanners will prevent the plane from crashing? When the leader of a country invites a known terrorist for dinner at a President's or Prime Minister's official residence does it matter any longer whether it is or is not legal to photograph a police officer? If a city or country is doing so well now that it can tell potential tourists to simply leave their cameras at home or face arrest, tourists should vote with their feet and not visit those places. The governments of these countries which fear terrorism must do a better job of keeping terrorists out in the first place. Blaming a tourists who happens to take a photograph in which a police officer appears is not a substitute for doing what it really necessary to insure public safety.
    Between toll booth cameras and scanners, policy car scanners, supermarket scanners, security cameras, credit card use history and black boxes in cars it will soon be possible to track the activity of every living person twenty four hours a day. Law abiding citizens will become the victims of all kinds of spying and scanning. Terrorists will find ways to work around these methods because governments are too busy spying on everyone else to find them.
  8. I've lived in two "communist" countries within the past 12 years (although China claims they're not communist and have not yet acheived the first stage of socialism). I went back to the UK and lasted about 18 months before we packed our bags and left again.
    I hope the protest goes well and they're successful and then they use their position to encourage more people to argue against the government. This government is worse than when monarchy ruled, it is no longer for the people, it's for business.
  9. this has nothing to do with anti-terrorism, and everything to do with police-state totalitarianism. what are the pigs afraid of, that they think they need a law against taking their picture? what do they have to hide?
    you could not PAY me enough to even THINK about living in England... the laws there are totally screwed up, and do more to punish honest citizens than deter criminals.
  10. This is not a law preventing the taking a photograph of a police officer it's a law preventing the taking a photo of a police officer which is likely to be of use to a person planning an act of terrorism. Just taking a photograph of a police officer without the terrorist intent is still legal - as it should be.
    I can't see this law ever being tried in court for these reasons:
    1. If there is sufficient evidence of terrorist intent then there is evidence for convictions for much more serious 'crimes' than photography so they will not bother with this one.
    2. If there is no evidence of terrorist intent then they don't have a case. If a photographer gets wrongfully arrested under this law he will eventually be released with an apology - as has been the case in most recent similar situations.
    3. This one is highly unlikely but if they decide to persue a case in court over an amateur (or press) photographer taking such a picture, that picture will be court evidence and the prosecution will have to show how that picture will be of assistance to a terrorist.
    I can see that this law when misused could be a major hassle when incorrectly quoted by police officers and PCSOs, as has the current terrorism act and proper training of officers is needed to ensure innocent photographers are not caught up in it.
    This law will never see a non-terrorist photographer imprisonned. It has potential for imprisoning a photographer with a terrorist intent but that intent is already illegal anyway so it is a pointless addition to the law.
  11. you could not PAY me enough to even THINK about living in England... the laws there are totally screwed up,​
    Assuming you are American.... Haven't you got the patriot act?
  12. Winston.
    You are clearly well educated and deep thinker with an intimate knowledge of the UK and it's legal system.
    I am sorry that you do not want to come and live here.
    The 'pigs' would make you most welcome and we do some real nice childrens TV programmes that I am sure you would love.
    Meanwhile read Steve Smiths article slowly. Perhaps a small chunk each day.
  13. Sorry to make two posts but even the Police do not want this law.
    STATEMENT BY THE METROPOLITAN POLICE FEDERATION. (Taken from their web site - a public statement)
    The Metropolitan Police Federation shares the concerns of press and other professional photographers that poorly-drafted anti-terrorist legislation could be used to justify unwarranted interference in their lawful activities.

    And we echo MP Austin Mitchell's call, made last year in an Early Day Motion, for the introduction of a photography code, which we believe should be clear and easily understood by any photographer, police officer, civilian support officer or warden.

    The code should be drawn up jointly by the Home Office and the various professional bodies representing police and photographers.
    Its aim should be to facilitate photography wherever possible, rather than seek reasons to bar it.

    We understand that professional photographers have immediate concerns over the implementation today (February 16) of section 76 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008.

    This updates section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which states that a person commits an offence if "he collects or makes a record of information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism…" adding: " 'record' includes a photographic or electronic record".

    Section 76 expands on this, turning into a criminal anyone who "publishes or communicates" any information about a member of the armed forces or a police officer which is "of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism…"

    This is open to wide interpretation or, rather, misinterpretation.
    How, for example, will it be expected to apply in practice to the 2012 Olympics, which will be both a photo-event par excellence and subject to an intense security operation?

    Does the law mean tourists are going to be rounded up and arrested en masse for taking suspicious photos of iconic scenes around the capital? That will work wonders for the international reputation of the London Bobby and for the city as a whole as a welcoming destination.

    If there is a terrorist attack in the capital, will the media concentrate their efforts on fire and ambulance crews and prudently avoid broadcasting or publishing pictures of police officers, rendering them invisible to the public?

    Police and photographers share the streets and the Met Federation earnestly wants to see them doing so harmoniously. Good relationships between the police and media benefit everyone, including the public, which both sides exist to serve.

    As things stand, there is a real risk of photographers being hampered in carrying out their legitimate work and of police officers facing opprobrium for carrying out what they genuinely, if mistakenly, believe are duties imposed on them by the law.

    This is unfair on everyone and completely avoidable - hence, the Met Fed's call for joint action to produce a mutually-agreed code.

    We do not want to become the ‘secret’ police.
  14. Good work, I hope the code will take into account also tourists that come to UK and want to go home with a picture of a local Bobby (which is an icon of England, like the red phone cab or the double decker bus) or just want to shoot pictures in train stations and places that could be potential targets for terrorist attacks (i.e. any public and crowded place). Although I understand that being arrested for taking pictures on the street in London could be a very unlikely event, if there are no clear rules and the police is enforced to do so, one can never exclude that it could happen, because the policeman that day got out of bed with the wrong feet, left common sense at home, or because the photographer could be perceived as a terrorist because of his dressing, skin color, haircut or whatever...

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