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Is Photography A Crime?

Read an interesting article on BJP about the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 (an ammendment to the Terrorism Act 2000), which allows for the arrest and imprisonment of anyone who takes pictures of police officers ‘likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism’.

It covers members of the armed forces, the intelligence services and police officers, and if found guilty you could be facing up to 10 years in jail.

What do you guys think about this? I have some thoughts, but I’d like to hear your comments first…

4 thoughts on “Is Photography A Crime?

  1. I think some common sense needs to be applied. Asking if you may take a picture is probably the safest and most sensible option.

  2. This has been going on :


    A lot of protestors are bothered about it, because it could potentially make it difficult to prove excessive force on arrest etc.

    It bothers me, I suppose because it doesn’t seem like there’s any need for it. If there is a genuine suspicion that pictures are being taken for the purposes of terrorism, there are other ways of dealing with it. And, as the BJP article points out, any similar action so far has seemed pretty random.

  3. I think you’re (both of you) right – it’s polite and good manners to ask, if you’re in a situation where you can. But as George points out, thats not always the case. My fear would be losing the ability to document an event in a neutral way – for example, documenting protests. I’m thinking of some of the iconic images I’ve seen, think of riots, of protests, of violence against punters – for example, the football riots. Would those images have been allowed to surface under these rules? Who decides whether the image I’m taking of a serviceman is being used for a compassionate exhibition or the plotting of a national terrorist attack? Do we really believe that we can change peoples thinking by restricting their behavior in this way?

  4. Oh my, you’ve got me started…

    “Do we really believe that we can change peoples thinking by restricting their behavior in this way?”

    Can I go so far as to suggest that it is completely counterintuitive?

    The more the government overreacts to terrorism, the more afraid people get. And surely creating an atmosphere of fear is the point of terrorism in the first place?

    The principle of divide and conquer. When the government starts questioning our motives, we start to question each other’s motives.

    It’s not that I have some burning desire to photograph police(wo)men you understand. It’s that these pointless additions to the legislature serve only to errode freedoms and create paranoia.

    *down with this sort of thing*

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