Thursday, 5 February 2009

National Take a Photo of a Police Officer Day 2009: stand up for citizen journalism!

Set to become law on the 16th of February in the UK, the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 amends the Terrorism Act 2000 regarding offences relating to information about members of armed forces, a member of the intelligence services, or a police officer. Laws are being introduced that allow for the arrest - and fining, and imprisonment for up to ten years - of anyone who takes pictures of officers 'likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism'.

The law is expected to increase the anti-terrorism powers used today by police officers to stop photographers, including press photographers, from taking pictures in public places.

Does anyone else have a problem with this?

Picture, if you will, a protest, demonstration or piece of civil action. These can be inconvenient places for the government. A bunch of riot police wade in with batons, and a shocked bystander takes out her camera to preserve the evidence. The right of citizens to maintain sousveillance over their own police and military systems is vital to any healthy democracy.

So let's take back the gaze, if only for ten more days.

Starting from today, take a picture of a police officer on your phone or your camera and post it to this facebook group or email me at the address on the left. Photos will be collated (with permission) here and at participating blogs - if you don't want your photo to be included there, or if you'd like to remain anonymous, just email me.

To make it even easier for you, photos of police officers still count if the participating copper happens to be your mum, sister, school chum, etc. Standing laws mean that we can't take pictures of these people anywhere where they have 'a reasonable expectation of privacy': we're here to say that we don't think police should be expected to enjoy privacy whilst nominally protecting the peace.

Join in, tell your friends! The revolution will not be televised, but it WILL be on facebook.

31 comments:

  1. How are we defining 'takes pictures' exactly? Technically, this law would invalidate the taking of any picture of a public building or monument. You can't take a picture of Trafalgar square as a terrorist could potentially use it to learn what the square looks like and what buildings are next to it and through this plan the best place to plant a bomb.

    If we took the 'take pictures' definition further, you couldn't copy any plans of public buildings as you would be creating a picture, which could allow a terrorist to see the layout of a public building, allowing him to plant a bomb. Perhaps, if take picture included creating pictures, you couldn't even plan a new building, if it was potentially going to become the target of terrorist interest.

    Actually, I think under such a law you might be more able to get away with taking a picture of riot police as you could argue that it would be unlikely that such an event would happen again, in the same place, with the same police- and so no terrorist could use the images. But a monument is always there...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Brilliant.

    Not a big fan of Facebook but will add any copper snaps I take. I think a Flickr group would be better :)

    Will continue to spread the word on Twitter.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Supoib idea.

    Should capture the interest of some of the more apolitical facebookites, as well.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I don't do FB (yet) but you can link to some pics here with a story of getting booted off of a great spot for taking pictures:

    http://blog.flowingdesert.com/2008/12/photographers-and-police.html

    I also took some pics this morning of an officer talking to a guy with a boycott sign in front of a store that he claims is selling drug paraphernalia. Not sure the outcome, but the officer has having a serious discussion w/him.

    So far, there are no laws to my knowledge in the USA about pictures of LEO's, I think there would be a huge uproar if that happens here.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Penny -

    Just delurking to say that I've been reading your blog for a while; thanks for writing it. This is terrifying. Sadly I don't have a pictures of police officers. I was walking from Waterloo to Oxford Circus on the Saturday of the big Gaza demonstration (the 10th, I think). Every side road between Trafalgar Square and Oxford Circus had a police van and a gaggle of officers looking very serious. I wish I'd had a camera then.
    Cloudthorn

    ReplyDelete
  6. ooh we've had lots hanging round walthamstow central station lately. maybe i'll bring my camera tomorrow.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Interesting. I can't see how this will stop terrorists from taking pictures if they have sufficient motivation.

    But I can see how it could be used to coerce and intimidate the general citizen.

    Are they going to ban google earth as well. I have heard that NZ customs use this wonderful resource for planning some of their operations, so I imagine terrorists could do the same.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Of course the terrorists, wearing their terrorist uniforms,will run right up to said officer and take a shot(!).

    As ever legislation that impacts everyone but the intended target.

    ReplyDelete
  9. can we have take picture of a police officer month???????

    ReplyDelete
  10. Funny what happens when you let the state get too big.

    I believe there is going to be a protest about this as well.

    http://bastardoldholborn.blogspot.com/2009/02/smile-please.html

    ReplyDelete
  11. So you can't "take pictures" of the Police any more. As an accomplished artist am I still allowed to sketch, draw or paint the police from life?

    Suppose I drew one or more members of the constabulary from images stored in my eidetic memory? Would that be considered semantically equivalent to some hypothetical photographic representation even though the subjects portrayed weren't present and photographic technology was not directly involved?

    This whole thing sounds kind of nutty to me folks.

    ReplyDelete
  12. How can anyone determine whether pictures of the police relate to hypothetical acts of terrorism that haven't yet happened in reality? All this begins to sound more and more like "Minority Report" territory to me.

    Suppose we're not permitted to take pictures of uniformed police officers on duty any more. Would we be allowed to take snaps of police officers in social situations when they're out of uniform? And what about photographing plain clothes police officers on or off duty?

    What a nightmare of a legal maze.

    My head is beginning to hurt.

    Piss on it all.

    ReplyDelete
  13. What an outlaw I am!

    Click here to become an accessory after the fact

    Arrest me now you muthas!

    ReplyDelete
  14. This is in answer to several comments left above, including Feminist Avatar and Connie Lingus:

    The western law enforcement agencies have all had, for many decades, the concept of a 'shopping list'. This is the list of ten or twenty things that the police, or the CIA, or GCHQ or whoever would dearly love to be able to do, but which are unlikely to ever get through the legislative branch.

    A quote from then-CIA director George Tenet, 2003: "Those weeks were... crazy... I mean, every shopping list came off the shelf, suddenly nothing was too much, no way to go too far". Same thing happened over here; I've got a search receipt from the police where, in the 'Reason for suspicion/ reason for search' box, the only data is 'Section 44 of the Terrorism Act'. In fact, I've got five of these. For some time now the police have been required to produce what the Yanks call 'probable cause' for the search recept; not any more.

    The reason agencies have shopping lists is so that they're there, ready, the instant something happens which will suspend reason and judgment in the halls of power for a few weeks. As soon as one comes up, they start pushing to see how far they can get; at least, over here, some of our government pushed back, mostly the unelected bits they're trying to abolish.

    This item, making it illegal to photograph the police in the pursuit of their duties, has been on the shopping list of every western police force since the mobile phone revolution. It used to be you just had to watch out for the actual journalists, who are relatively easy to spot, because only they could get the word out. Then came the internet, but still, cameras are bulky and most people don't carry one all the time.

    Then came camera phones. Then came camera phones that worked. All of a sudden, over 50% of the population can not only record what you do, they can also get the word out. This is the only response a 20th Century police mind can come up with, since, clearly, avoiding indulgence in the casual abuses of authority is out of the question.

    They tried this before. Most places had such laws in the 50s. The laws were broken because brave men and women took pictures, got beaten by police, got them published, and got sent to jail. They kept doing it until the attitudes of the world they lived in changed.

    To quote RAW, "Some of us are gonna spend time in the man's jails before this thing is over." Ghandi showed us that the only way to change the world while retaining the moral high-ground is to bleed for our beliefs. I've been incarcerated on three continents, though I've never been convicted: to quote RAW again; "The seat of true freedom is the human ability to say 'No', and take the consequences".

    ReplyDelete
  15. Oops, forgot one bit: the language "likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism" is the killer. Any photograph of a uniformed policeman, and I mean any, fits this description because it can be used as a source photograph for someone who wants to accurately disguise themselves as a security officer. Therefore all and any such photographs are potentially 'useful to a person [...] preparing an act of terrorism'.

    ReplyDelete
  16. So, essentially, assuming Joe Q. Publican's interpretation of the law is correct, if we photograph members of any police force it will be automatically assumed, prima facie, that we are doing so for nefarious purposes!

    This is loopy!

    It's like saying that anyone who photographs a member of any constabulary is tacitly considered to be a potential terrorist until proven innocent!

    Have we stepped through Alice's looking-glass into Wonderland? Or what? Watch out for a tag saying "In this style 10/6" tucked into Gordon Brown's hat band!

    Screw all governments!!!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hello. Please can say which part of the act you are refering to so that we can look it up. Because lots of silly people periodically start campaigns along the lines of 'the government is planning on banning breathing in a public space' but it turns out to be bollocks. You haven't linked to any independent source to substantiante your claim, which makes me think that this is a similar misunderstanding/people getting worked up about nothing

    ReplyDelete
  18. Armageddon Thru To You

    If you've been wondering why it seems like the world around us is unraveling, it's because the last days as foretold in the bible are now upon us. Just as it was 2000 years ago, many were unable to discern the signs of Jesus Christ's first coming (Mat 16:3), as will many concerning his second coming, which will occur very soon. Yes many have proclaimed a similar sentiment many times in the past, but their errors have no bearing on today other than to lull you into spiritual apathy, and that too was prophesied to occur in the last days.


    If you're not a believer in Jesus Christ because you're an atheist, consider that the underlying impetus for your disbelief is most likely borne of pride and here's why:

    When we die, if you as an atheist were right, then there is no upside or downside for anyone regarding the afterlife. We will all simply cease to exist

    However if we Christians were right about our belief in the afterlife, then we will be given eternal life and you as an atheist will receive eternal damnation

    Given the choices, the position held by an atheist is a fools bet any way you look at it because the atheist has everything to lose and nothing to gain. It is tantamount to accepting a “heads I win, tails you lose” coin toss proposition from someone. And that someone by the way is Satan (see Ephesians 6:12).

    The only way to explain the attitude held by an atheist is pride, pure and simple. The intellectually dishonest and/or tortured reasoning used by atheists to try and disprove the existence of God is nothing more than attempts to posture themselves as superior (a symptom of pride). And as anyone who has read their bible knows, this is precisely the character flaw that befell Lucifer, God's formerly most high angel. (Isaiah 14:12-15). Is it any wonder then why the bible is so replete with references to pride as the cause of mankind's downfall?

    Pride permeates our lives and burdens us in ways that most of us seldom recognize. Ironically, pride is the one thing that can blind someone to things even the unsighted can see. And sadly pride will blind many with an otherwise good heart, to accepting the offer of eternal salvation that Christ bought and paid for with his life.


    In any event, if you're an atheist, I wish you only the best for every day of the rest of your life because for you, this life is as close to heaven as you'll ever get, but for believers in Christ, this life is as close to hell as we'll ever get.





    If you're not a believer and follower of Jesus Christ because you are of another faith, please take the time to very carefully compare your faith to Christianity and ask yourself, why is the bible the only religious book with both hundreds of proven prophecies already fulfilled as well as those being fulfilled today? No other religion can claim anything remotely close to this fact. Many Christians who are serious students of bible prophecy are already aware of the role and significance of bible prophecy in foretelling end time events. God gave us prophecy as evidence of his divine holiness to know the begining from the end (Isa 46:10). God also believed prophecy to be so important that to those willing to read the most prophetic book in the bible, the Book of Revelation, he promised a special blessing (see Rev 1:3), and this is the only book in the bible that God gives its reader a special blessing for reading. Something to think about.


    Don't risk losing Christ's offer of eternal life by not accepting him as your savior and by thinking that the bible is nothing more than a compilation of unrelated and scattered stories about people who lived 2,000 plus years ago. If you take the time to study (not just read) the bible, you will literally be shocked to learn things you would have never imagined would be revealed in it. Did you know that like parables, God also uses particular months and days in the Jewish calendar, Jewish Feasts and customs, solar and lunar phases, celestial alignments, gematria (Hebrew numerology) early bible events and more as patterns and models to foretell future events?


    Consider the following interesting facts about the bible that testify to its God-inspired authorship:

    Did you know that in Gen 12:2, God said he would bless Israel?. How else can you explain the grossly disproportionate level of success achieved by Jewish people as a tiny minority in the world, especially after all they have gone through? And how can you explain the success achieved by the tiny nation of Israel, surrounded by enemies outnumbering them 100 to 1 and yet still they remain victorious in all their wars?


    Did you know that as evidence to indicate that Israel is the epicenter of the world from God's point of view is the fact that languages to the west of Israel are written and read from left to right as if pointing to Israel, and languages from countries to the east of Israel are written and read from right to left, again as though pointing to Israel. Just a coincidence, you say? I think not.


    Did you know that the six days of creation and seventh day of rest in Genesis is a model for the six thousand years of this age (ending very soon), that is to be followed by a 1,000 year millennial reign by Christ (see 2 Peter 3:8)? Adam was born sometime prior to 4000 B.C., therefore our 6000 years are almost up.


    Did you kow that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is hidden in the meaning of the Hebrew names listed in the genealogy of the book of Genesis (Research it online)? To deny this was God-inspired, one has to instead believe that a group of Jewish rabbis conspired to hide the Christian Gospel right inside a genealogy of their venerated Torah, which is not a very plausible explanation.


    Did you know that solar eclipses, which the bible describes as the sun being black as sackcloth, and lunar eclipses, which the bible refers to as blood red moons, have prophetic meaning? Research it online. God showed Adam (and us) his plan for man's redemption through the use of celestial alignments. (research Mazzaroth online)

    Did you know that much of the symbolism in the book of revelation refers to planetary alignments that will occur when certain events occur as prophesied? These planetary alignments also explained the birth of Christ, just search out The Bethlehem Star movie on the Internet.

    Did you know that the references in Eze 39:4-17 and Rev 19:17-21 in the battle of Gog/Magog and Armageddon respectively, in which birds of prey will eat the flesh of the dead in battle from two enormous wars is based on fact? The largest bird migration in the world consisting of bilions of birds (34 species of raptors and various carrion birds) from several continents converge and fly over Israel every spring and fall. Coincidence? I think not.

    Did you know that Hebrew numerology, also known as Gematria, and the numbers with biblical and prophetic significance are hidden in the Star of David? Google the video called "Seal of Jesus Christ"

    Did you know that the seven Churches mentioned at the beginning of the Book of Revelation describe the seven stages the Church will go through?

    There are literally hundreds of hidden messages in the bible like these that testify to the fact that the bible was God inspired, and statistically speaking, are all exponentially beyond the likelihood of any coincidence. You can find them yourselves if you only take the time to look into it. Remember Proverbs 25:2 "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings".


    And finally, if you are Catholic, or one who subscribes to the emergent Church or seeker-friendly Church movement, please compare the doctrine taught, advocated or accepted by your Church, with the actual bible, notwithstanding some new-age version of the bible. And remember that although the bible is often referred to as the living bible, the word "living" was never intended to imply in any way that the bible "evolves" over time to meet, or be consistent with, the standards of man. It's just the opposite.


    Well, am I getting through to you? If not, the answer might be explained in the response given by Jesus Christ in his Olivet discourse when he was asked by his disciples why he spoke the way he did (in parables, etc.) in the book of Matthew 13:10-16. What Jesus said could have easily been paraphrased more clearly as "so that the damned won't get it". Why did Christ respond the way he did when asked why he spoke this way? Is there something about pride (the bible says there is) that closes one's heart to seeing or hearing the messages supernaturally hidden in bible parables, models, typologies, and similes, etc.? That should give you something to think about, but don't take too long. Time is now very short.


    If it sometimes seems like there are powers at work behind the powers we know, remember what it says in Ephesians 6:12 "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." If you study the bible, it will become clearer.


    And by the way, if you are a scoffer, this too was prophesied to occur in the last days. See 2 Peter 3:3.


    Thank you and God Bless you!
    Armageddon.thru.to.you (at) gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  19. Armageddon Thru To You.

    (Sigh.)

    Am I the only one or do others find "cut 'n' paste" religiosity a bore?

    If the only way to salvation is through Jesus Christ does that mean that everybody, no matter how spiritual, enlightened or good who died before Christ walked the earth are by definition damned simply because they preceded him on the time line.

    (Posthumous apologies to Dante Alighieri in respect to stealing his thunder as per the foregoing.)

    That doesn't seem fair to me sport. And in any case, by the way, there is no real historical evidence that Jesus actually existed at all.

    You sound slightly mentally ill to me but supposing you are correct I still wouldn't want to abandon my atheism. The thought of spending an eternity in the company of a bunch of dogmatic po-faced morons like you seems a far worse fate than toasting in the flames of hell for eternity and a day!

    Also, why do important messages from the almighty have to be "hidden" in scriptural texts? If such messages are prophesies or injunctions designed to inform mankind how to live righteous lives why aren't they written simply and in plain sight so that everyone can understand and obey them? All this numerology, decoding and arbitrary assigning of meaning seems rather silly and more than a little desperate to me - a bit like playing a rock song backward and struggling to discern satanic messages embedded in that music advising us to do all manner of anti-social and naughty things.

    Personally I plead with you not to post on this site again. If that plea falls on deaf ears I would ask the blog's owner to re-enable content moderation and filter out posts from religio-maniac nutcases like you until entropy snuffs out the stars (my view) or Armageddon occurs (yours), whichever comes first.

    My advice to you would be to lie down now in a dark room, rest your eyes and keep taking the tablets. Tablets? I'm talking about aspirin or paracetamol here and not about the stone ones purportedly brought down from mount Sinai by Moses after he enjoyed a convivial chat with a burning bush. (Incidentally, holding conversations with non-sentient objects is a classic symptom of polymorphic-schizophrenia.) There are only two examples as far as I know of the latter mentioned tablets but an infinite number of the former thanks to the wonders of inorganic chemistry and modern science.

    I wish you well.

    Please DON'T reply to this post!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Connie Lingus: Hmm, let me clarify my position a little :) I am not saying that everyone taking a picture of a policeman will be arrested, because such 'could be useful' in planning terrorism. I'm saying that the point of this law is to create a legal situation where they can be arrested.

    It's a fairly old line that governments have no power except the coercive; and that in order to coerce a citizen, that citizen must have broken a law. The corollary many miss is that therefore, it is in the interests of government to place as many people outside the law as possible.

    The more things that are banned, the more opportunities the government have for exercising coercive power on the individual. But they don't have to exercise those powers. Therefore, once a high enough percentage of your citizenry have broken ridiculous law, you finally return discretion to government; you only have the police hassle the specific citizens you want hassled, ie. people you don't like, and you can just know they'll be doing something wrong. Anyone you like, you just don't check to see which law they broke.

    This is the point behind marijuana prohibition; it gave racist Yanks a chance to legitimately arrest Mexicans on sight, because 2/3s of the Mexican population had been converted into criminals overnight. Most didn't know it til arrested.

    Section 44 of the Terrorism Act is obvious. It says 'you can screw with people without needing any justification, that discretion is in the hands of every beat cop'. This law is insidious, and therefore much more dangerous. It says that if a nice 60-yr-old lady from Warwick wants to take a picture of a couple of bobbies in Trafalgar Square, that's clearly ok, but if that nasty little goit on the anti-Starbucks protest, who just had their phone out to record the police batons flattening a single mum, gets spotted you can nick him, no appeal.

    That's the danger. It removes legal discretion from the hands of the people (via their elected representatives) and places it in the hands of soldiers on the front line of a cultural war. This is not good.

    Think back to the Battle of the Beanfield. That would never have come out, would never have been broadcast because the police were beating journalists and smashing their cameras. How did it get out? One of the people on the other side was a peer of the realm.

    With this law in place, he would have been gagged by his own responsibility to the House of Lords, because the police actions against journalists would have been legal, even if their actions against the men, women and children on the march were not.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Whichever way you look at it John Q. Publican the proposed law is pretty flaky in my opinion. As far as I am concerned this is yet another example of paranoia in our current government: other recent examples might include identity cards (still an active proposal), six weeks detention without charge (dead in the water), lie detectors installed in council benefit offices to filter claimants etc., etc.

    The ambiguous limbo that citizens inhabit in respect to why they photographed police officers is the worst of all possible situations since their actions could be interpreted differently by different people, organisations and bodies at different times.

    Horrible.

    A typical, unworthy and woolly example of bad government.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Connie Lingus: absolutely. The law as I understand it is an attempt to move judgments from those equipped to make them, and scrutinised doing it, to those who're ... not.

    And an attempt to remove the citizen's one defense of the modern era; publication.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Ms. Red and Mr. Q. Publican; fine summations of the situation as ever. I'm going to shamelessly crosspost from the facebook thread as I think this is worth restating:

    'Members of the media have a duty to take photographs and film incidents and we have no legal power or moral responsibility to prevent or restrict what they record.'

    from the Association of Chief Police Officers Police-Media guidelines, at http://www.epuk.org/Resources/819/acpo-police-media-guidelines.

    *We* watch the watchers. That's the point.

    ReplyDelete
  24. As a forma member of the armed forces, does the act cover me?

    I hope so, I'd love to wonder up to a cop at a demo and make a citizens arrest :)

    ReplyDelete
  25. I did this at a squat party, and got assaulted and my phone broken for my troubles.

    God bless you, GMP B Division.

    I think the answer is to keep journalists' mobile numbers in your phone, so you can send them an immediate picture message at any point...

    ReplyDelete
  26. I am not going to say i saw this coming.. Even my suspicious mind could not think of a plot as heinous as this one being introduced.

    Even after having been stopped at numerous occasions in the past for taking photographs in a public place..

    Something is really very wrong here.

    Maybe we should all do what I suggested in an old blog post (http://ourmaninside.com/2008/07/08/protect-your-content-stream-it-live/) and stream our data from our devices. Maybe with the difference that it is not stored on our actual devices..

    At least until a new law is brought is that states we can't even pretend to photograph a police officer.

    ReplyDelete
  27. If I photograph Sting or Stewart Copeland performing on stage could I get in trouble? After all they were both members of the Police once weren't they?

    ReplyDelete
  28. You seem to recoil from your conclusion, there is the faintest whiff of burning, or at least definitely should-not-read, book there. What exactly are you advocating people do with this? What is the critique FOR, other than your having fun writing the post get facebook fans

    ReplyDelete
  29. This is an intresting blog that you have posted, you shares a lot of things about Security Officers,Security Guards and Mobile Patrols.Which are very informative for us.Thanks

    ReplyDelete

Comments are open on this blog, but I reserve the right to delete any abusive or off-topic threads.