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Thursday, 09 July 2009


How nice to find out that I'm not a terrorist.

Yeah, when the Brits gave up their guns many other freedoms followed quickly thereafter. Now they live at the pleasure of their government masters. When a government treats its citizens as if they were children it is not surprising those same citizens soon start acting like children. Witness the prevalence of hooliganism in the UK. It is nice to see that a bit of innocent photography may be tolerated for the present. It is truly ironic that Iran is one of the few places in the world today where people seem willing to die for freedom. Ducking.

This is actually great news. The "almost-police" community support officers in particular needed this guidance.

It will make the police and almost-police a lot more cautious about hassling photographers (where they know perfectly well the person is just a photographer not a terrorist) from now on.

Up till now they have often felt obliged to stick their noses in even where they knew it wasn't required. I was questioned once and I don't know who was more embarrassed, me or the police officers. "It's the anti-terror legislation you see. I have to ask you."

Wow. A little (admittedly very little) piece of my faith in British democracy has been restored. I, and many many others did fill in petitions and write to our MPs on this matter. Perhaps someone is listening.

To Dave - well may you duck! The problem is that a view of a country from outside is distorted by the media presentation, anecdote etc. The reality is usually very different.

I'm not sure how our 'hooliganism' measures up to the gang violence is certain US cities.



For the life of me I cannot understand the American obsession with guns. Take this comment from Dave Kee:

"Yeah, when the Brits gave up their guns many other freedoms followed quickly thereafter. Now they live at the pleasure of their government masters."

What does that really mean? Do you honestly believe that having a gun will prevent changes in legislation? Do you propose that every time a politician says or does something that you don't agree with that you go out and shoot somebody or something? I read the other day that the USA has over 25,000 hand gun related deaths per annum. You guys don't need foreign wars--your country is fighting an internal one. It's horrific that there are more gun deaths in your country a year than there have been US deaths in 6 years' conflict in Iraq.

For me and many other non US citizens the USA is a complete anathema.


The totally fascist UK government finally developed a conscience and accepted that handling a camera is no proof of terrorism?

Wonders will never cease!

On the downside: what will they descend to now, to harass the common citizen?

Sadly, us Brits seem to be sleepwalking into a surveillance/police state, all in the name of 'security'. We are already one of the most surveilled (is that a word?)societies in the world, up there with China et al. In London they've recently installed Automatic Number Plate Recognition Cameras on all the main roads, so every journey you make is logged and, presumably, assessed by some facelss apparatchik. And details are kept for up to two years. Ironic that the State can photograph it's citizens whenever it wants without their permission yet gets itself tied in knots when a photographer takes a few snaps on the street.

The entire security industry, both public and private, has been on a high-horse since September 2001. It's analogous to the guy that comes out of a house, after I've snapped a photo of an old car parked in front of [what I assume to be]his house, and asks: 'What're yuh takin' pictures for?'...as if he's worried that the CIA (or maybe the bill collector?) is 'hot on his trail'. I guess everyone's an international man of mystery... in their own minds.

Let's not go off on gun arguments here, please. I concede it's an important issue, but it's unrelated to photography. Dave had his say and Paul his rebuttal. Let's leave it at that.


Mike, caught in crossfire

The other day I was stopped (or attempted) taking photos at a public transit terminal in San Francisco. A private security person threatened to call the police. As I work for the agency that runs the terminal I checked on my status. Needless to say, there were no restrictions on general photography and they encouraged professionals to scope out the site before applying for filming permits.

On another occasion, I was taking pictures in a shopping mall. The mall had lots of “security” (think Mall Cop) and a list of restrictions (no gangs, no hoodies, no guns etc.), but no explicit restriction on photography. Despite only taking about 10-15 shots (with a Zeiss Ikon), none of them close-ups of individuals, I was chased around the mall. Each time they asked me to stop taking photos I politely declined and wandered on. Eventually, I had eight of them asking me to leave. When I refused (pointing out they had no reference to a photo ban and I was not causing any commotion or inconvenience to others), they called a local cop. I’m not sure what he was threatening me with, for I just sat there ignoring them, but they were clearly unsure of their rights to physically eject me. Eventually I just left.

Here in the US, there appears to be a belief that you have no rights on private property, but from my experience in the UK (and English Law) this is not the case. Even if they’d been a sign saying “No Photography” I believe I do have the right to take photographs for my own use. But I’m no lawyer.

Dear Mike,

On private property, you indeed have no rights to make photographs, not even for your own, unpublished use. It is entirely up to what the owner of the property chooses to permit. Note that transit terminals (and airports) are NOT legally considered 'private property'.

The status of a mall is more legally complicated. For some legal purposes it's considered a public gathering place, for others it's a private place of business.

I do not know what that legal status is with regard to noncommercial photography. I'll bet you someone reading this thread DOES know, though, and will chime in.

Note that the police, private or governmental, do not have the right to confiscate or demand any photos you've already made, even if they have the right to eject you from a property and even if they (legitimately) arrest you for trespassing.

pax / Ctein

"Using a camera in public is not in itself a terrorist offence."

You gotta LOVE that "in itself".

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