/ Scope creep... photography laws

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Cerulean on 12 Feb 2009 - 212.124.247.104 whois?
The agents of the state should never be anonymous....

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/feb/12/photographers-anti-terror-laws

Interesting this next step in the growth of the 'anti-terror' laws. Given that your average London bobby - and hobby bobby - thinks a bloke with an SLR photographing something vaguely different is building a portfolio of targets for 'Al Qaeda', and given that the dissemination of the web of new anti-freedom laws to constabularies about the UK is uneven at best, how is our government's enforcement agency going to handle charging people with an offence that could see your average Joe facing a ten-stretch - for taking a picture?

http://www.bjp-online.com/public/showPage.html?page=839141

Police already think they have the right to make you delete pictures or turn over your equipment, so what happens if our public servants get the right to be anonymous, charge you with preparing an act of terrorism, and then detain you for a few weeks - for taking a picture?

http://www.nuj.org.uk/innerPagenuj.html?docid=1104

I'm wondering when people will stop saying; 'Oh don't worry about it.' and 'What does it matter if you're not doing anything wrong?' and actually start becoming a little concerned about the ever-increasing far-reaching laws that already allow police to stop and search you on a whim. Now they'll be able to stop and search us, and arrest us, on a whim - and then take your DNA for the database - before questioning you for weeks and then booting you back onto the street, minus a memory card or two, your income, and possibly your professional reputation... - just for taking a picture.

Your photograph and DNA will be on record for next time though - just in case you step out of line...

(Excuse the rags:)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/henryporter/2009/jan/07/trainspotter-arrest

http://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/news-and-events/1-press-releases/2008/04-12-2008-retaining-dn...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/feb/06/surveillance-privacy-dna-database

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-491714/Big-Brother-UK-Police-hold-DNA-fingerprints-4-5m-Brit...

http://www.metro.co.uk/news/article.html?in_article_id=98741&in_page_id=34

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/video/2009/feb/04/liberty-central-samuel-west



ICE on 12 Feb 2009
In reply to Cerulean: Hey if they stop a EU citizen from moving freely about the EU who cares about a few paps? (basically what joe public thinks), sad sad country we have become.
deepsoup - on 12 Feb 2009
In reply to Cerulean:
> Police already think they have the right to make you delete pictures or turn over your equipment.

Speaking of the average London bobby, and hobby-bobby in this regard - check out the charmer in this interesting short film:
http://current.com/items/88856223/yo.htm
Fraser on 12 Feb 2009
In reply to deepsoup:

Is is just me or was that in Italian?

Got the gist of it though!
Dom Whillans on 12 Feb 2009
In reply to Cerulean:
CHANNEL 9! A meth eth eth eth eth, heth heth heth heth heth heth. boutros boutros ghali!
Sam W - on 12 Feb 2009
In reply to Cerulean:
As a direct result of this thread I have just joined Liberty.
This government must be delighted that they can pass so many oppressive laws with so little resistance from the electorate.
Cerulean on 13 Feb 2009 - 212.124.247.104 whois?
In reply to deepsoup:
> (In reply to Cerulean)
> [...]
>
> Speaking of the average London bobby, and hobby-bobby in this regard - check out the charmer in this interesting short film:
> http://current.com/items/88856223/yo.htm

Interesting video. He certainly suffered worse there than I have. When I was tailed and stopped by a couple of Met officers (well, one approached me whilst another remained at the car with his radio in hand) on Bond Street, the chap was pretty reasonable and thankfully knew his law. I'm a pretty disarming person anyway, as opposed to being confrontational, and we entered into the reasons and law of why he had to do what he was doing. He explained the law, his rights and mine, told his counterpart to stand down, and asked to see my images. I duly showed him my last 5 shots as requested and he didn't touch my equipment or ask me to delete anything. We then agreeably parted, without the ID rigmarole.

I think one of the main issues with 'Specials' is that as a rule they feel compelled to act to help their local area, which is great in principle, but their motivation isn't born of a 'normal' career choice, it's often prompted - speaking for London here - on the back of the 9/11 and 7/7 situation where normal members of the public have applied to be a 'police officer' because they have fully accepted the messages from the government and the media over the last decade. Particularly the war on terror message from Bush and Blair. I'd suggest that a full-time trained career police officer is more likely to be concerned about his/ her reputation and adherence to the law, and importantly have the balance and experience that years on the force can provide, when making the choice to act against a random person with a camera.

The main issue I have with these new laws is that messages to subordinates are always open to interpretation - in any form of job - and even disposing of the 'bad element' that exists in any organisation, offcers will misuse these powers. The use of creep in the thread title and discussion on this identifies the fact that we are creeping ever closer to being answerable to the state for normal reasonable behaviour.
Cerulean on 13 Feb 2009 - 212.124.247.104 whois?
In reply to sam w:
> (In reply to Cerulean)
> As a direct result of this thread I have just joined Liberty.
> This government must be delighted that they can pass so many oppressive laws with so little resistance from the electorate.

Good on you. It's the imperfect framework of democracy that exists that is to blame in this country I think, and we're one of the flagship countries for 'freedom'.

In an ideal democracy laws affecting the public in their everyday lives would be open to public referenda, particularly where seemingly hand-in-hand with new privacy/ public order laws come restrictions on protest, the actions of protesters, and the areas where you are 'allowed' to protest. This creep of laws is gradually moving towards a government being able to impose new rule and the public being denied an effective legal framework to object.
dread-i - on 13 Feb 2009
In reply to Cerulean:
>Given that your average London bobby - and hobby bobby - thinks a bloke with an SLR photographing something vaguely different is building a portfolio of targets for 'Al Qaeda'

I think that in London, at least, you could probably get away with photographing anything provided you pretend to be a tourist.

If you are getting into confrontations with the police, have you considered simply printing out a hand out for them stating the relevant laws and your rights under them?

If you wanted to really annoy them, then have a form of your own, asking for their name, number, rank, law under which you are stopped, which senior officer authorised the exclusion zones etc. (Probably best to have a solicitor on speed dial if you go down that route.)

Whilst there is an element of jest in the above, if all photographers had two similar sheets in their camera bag then perhaps there would be less confusion, on both sides, as to what is legal or not.
Ian McNeill - on 13 Feb 2009
In reply to Cerulean:

one has to see this film for inspiration

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chqi8m4CEEY

thats what will come the masses will rise up ....

vive la revolution .....
Cerulean on 13 Feb 2009 - 212.124.247.104 whois?
In reply to dread-i:
> (In reply to Cerulean)
>
>
> I think that in London, at least, you could probably get away with photographing anything provided you pretend to be a tourist.
>
I'm usually in a suit actually (photgraphy not being the day job) and I do look like a tourist at weekends so I usually don't get bothered. It helps that I'm 'White British' too.

> If you are getting into confrontations with the police, have you considered simply printing out a hand out for them stating the relevant laws and your rights under them?
>
I have a number of documents in my bag at all times, including a UK Photographers rights document, a Liberty stop & search monitoring form, and the advice on section 44.

> If you wanted to really annoy them, then have a form of your own, asking for their name, number, rank, law under which you are stopped, which senior officer authorised the exclusion zones etc. (Probably best to have a solicitor on speed dial if you go down that route.)
>
I find that annoying the police loses you credence and makes life worse for you. Incidentally, you are allowed under law to take name, rank, and number of any officers apprehending you.

> Whilst there is an element of jest in the above, if all photographers had two similar sheets in their camera bag then perhaps there would be less confusion, on both sides, as to what is legal or not.

This is the idea behind the Liberty monitoring form, not just specific to photographers, but from what I've read it is becoming prevalent among professionals who are getting perpetually apprehended, particularly the press covering protests and demonstrations (activities that predominantly take place in London).
Cerulean on 13 Feb 2009 - 212.124.247.104 whois?
In reply to Ian McNeill:
> (In reply to Cerulean)
>
> thats what will come the masses will rise up ....
>
> vive la revolution .....

Unfortunately they won't though. Most are happy with their diet of sensation and celebrity, strictly get me out of the ice factor in the jungle, and the the quiet cul-de-sac comforts that this green and pleasant land offers. Provided they remain 'wealthy' and [black/ eastern] immigrants are the only ones suffering no one will get out of their armchair.

Only a 60th of the country protested about us invading another country, so people aren't going to stand-up for the equivalent of what they see as nothing more than a speed camera for pedestrians.
Ian McNeill - on 13 Feb 2009
In reply to Cerulean:

I know what you mean, aside from that

anyone heading to London on Monday from Snowdonia?

Cerulean on 13 Feb 2009 - 212.124.247.104 whois?
In reply to Ian McNeill:
> (In reply to Cerulean)
>
> anyone heading to London on Monday from Snowdonia?

For anyone who's interested it starts at 11am. I think you can still get a train from Crewe to Euston in under two hours. Some more details here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/igeldard/3268841739/

Cerulean on 16 Feb 2009 - 212.124.247.104 whois?
In reply to thread:

You've got to love this statement:

'The police added that anyone accused under the act could defend themselves by proving they had "a reasonable excuse" for taking the picture.'

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7892273.stm

And this:

'The law makes it an offence to photograph police officers or military personnel if the picture could be used for a purpose linked to terrorism.'

No chance of inappropriate actions by the police here. I mean this guidance is as clear as mud... Chances are, just like with the implementation of Section 44, you'll get a load of innocent people being hassled and upset who will have their lives affected, and possibly tarnished, because the dissemination of yet another new law will be just as woeful and slapdash as last time. Whatever cretin thought this new 'freedom' law up should be moved into some department where they can't cause as much damage.

And let's not forget that this now provides a licence for police to behave in any manner they like during protests with no fear of legal reprisal. Above the law? They are now...
James Jackson on 16 Feb 2009
In reply to Cerulean:

What really irritates me is that you get govt. saying "It is up to the police and the courts to interpret the law". WTF is that about? Surely *any* law should be well drafted so as to require as little interpretation as possible!
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Cerulean on 17 Feb 2009 - 212.124.247.104 whois?
In reply to sam w:
> (In reply to Cerulean)
>
> This government must be delighted that they can pass so many oppressive laws with so little resistance from the electorate.

At least there are people from within the system using their influence to make a point:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7893890.stm


Former head of MI5 Dame Stella Rimington:

"It would be better that the government recognised that there are risks, rather than frightening people in order to be able to pass laws which restrict civil liberties, precisely one of the objects of terrorism - that we live in fear and under a police state,"

Former Irish president Mary Robinson:

"Seven years after 9/11 it is time to take stock and to repeal abusive laws and policies enacted in recent years."


I firmly believe that this process of gradually eroding liberties via the introduction of more and more 'public activities' laws will continue unabated as long as there is a [New} Labour or Conservative government in power. There appear to be no new ideas forthcoming on how to combat the animosity that our actions overseas have inflicted upon the British public. The current strategy appears to be to give the British public enough freedom and information to care, but to attempt to control their every action (and reaction) by inflicting the threat of detention upon them. The one thing this theme has reaffirmed for me is to always use my vote, as it's now the only effective way of protesting.

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