05 March, 2008

Metropolitan Police - The war on photography and UK Photographer's rights

War on Photographers
(this picture originally found here)...

Oh no...please don't let it end up with everyone getting stupidly paranoid...*sigh*...first (the worst bit of counter terrorism advice...*ever*) we have to keep an eye out for anyone with two 'phones (like both Flyingpops *and* me, and probably countless other people who either have just got a new one or have to carry a second 'phone for work), but *now* we need to add to the list anyone that is wielding -*gasp*- a camera...a camera? In London?

Well, let's just (for the sake of arguement) take a quick look at me - two 'phones? (check) - Camera? (oops - double check!) - Lurks on public transport or around other high profile targets like Canary Wharf shooting off pictures? (check and check) - bonus points? I *even* carry it all around with me in a large *rucksack* (BAM)...! I guess this would put me firmly in the -*very*- suspicious catagory - if I wasn't arguably "white" (apart from in the summer if I manage to get out enough) - so, apologies to anyone of middle-eastern appearance that works around high profile sites in the city and has an interest in photography - you'll need to shoot subtly from now on, making you look even *more* dodgy on the CCTV footage that ends up getting you a visit from PC Copperfield... :(

It reached the point in the US (well, in New York at least, yes, the "Land of the Free"), after 9/11, paranoid subway workers/security guards would come up to me and tell me I wasn't allowed to shoot pictures...even though I *knew* US citizens had a law-given right to do so (as they have clearly defined "Photographers rights" based on their happy "Freedom" concept) but I didn't have a leg to stand on being a British visitor, rather than a US citizen (and didn't wish to risk being arrested over a point of principle, even if I was in the right)...

Anyway, for those of us here in the UK concerned, thanks to Linda Macpherson (a lecturer in law at Heriot Watt University, specialising in IT, Intellectual Property and Media legislation) we do have a (although somewhat untested) legally sound UK Photographers rights document...want a summary? We basically don't have much of anything...(not that any of this is enforced in any way)...but did you know it could get you in seriously hot water if any picture you took while on "a railway" could be demonstrably useful to terrorists? That's it, I'm going down, mine are all even Geotagged! How about the fact that it's 100% illegal to take any pictures of bank notes??? Why did no-one mention this when I bought my camera!!? Probably because no-one in the UK is aware of that fact...! Most suprising? We have *extremely* wooly privacy legislation in the UK meaning you can take a picture of anyone, as long as they are in a public place, without any fear of reprisal, they can't even claim harrassment (well, unless you take *two* shots)...

Somehow, I think this needs firming up, even if just a little...and asking the public to keep a close eye on people with cameras? I refer the police to their appeal for pictures that were taken just prior to/and of the events of 7/7 (to which I contributed)...make people nervous about shooting in the capital and that evidence stream is depleted, if not deleted...folly...

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of idiots!

Anonymous said...

just hope they don't catch up with you before the wedding, think you could be a prime suspect if some jobs worth puts your data in to a goverment computer. could make a good scoop.

Anonymous said...

I think they are probably publicising it for good reason though? It might look like overkill but sadly there are so many who are out there doing things that they shouldn't... it's not a vendetta against photographers.

Glydel said...

nice

police officer jobs said...

If you were not acting suspiciously and you were simply taking a picture for some innocent, legitimate purpose, and a policeman takes your camera, you should be safe in the knowledge that the law is on your side and the policeman was breaking the law.