Pointing a camera at the police

The United Kingdom is going totally bananas in it’s misguided battle against terror. For a long time they have been hounding photographers with very bad results for the countries image but hardly preventing any crime or terror. But this next step is absolutely misguided.

Basically it’s an amendment to the the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 that will have the result of criminalizing, amongst other things, the photographing of a police officer. Here is a quote from the British Journal of Photography:

Set to become law on 16 February, 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.

The new set of rules, under section 76 of the 2008 Act and section 58A of the 2000 Act, will target anyone who ‘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’.

A person found guilty of this offence could be liable to imprisonment for up to 10 years, and to a fine.

Now we have all seen silly laws before but can you even begin to imagine who could sit down and think this is a good idea? I think almost any tourist to London could look through their snaps and find a picture of a bobby with the distinctive helmet. Also this law will be used to prevent civilians taking photographs of police abuse. Imagine the effect if the reporters who took the Rodney King video faced ten years in jail?

This is a serious blow against civil rights and individual freedom – not a step towards ending terrorism.

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