UK to introduce "photograph a cop, 10 years in jail" law

Britain's set to introduce a law that can send you to jail for a decade for taking a picture of a cop:
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.

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. 'Who is to say that police officers won't abuse these powers,' asks freelance photographer Justin Tallis, who was threatened by an officer last week.

Tallis, a London-based photographer, was covering the anti-BBC protest on Saturday 24 January when he was approached by a police officer. Tallis had just taken a picture of the officer, who then asked to see the picture. The photographer refused, arguing that, as a press photographer, he had a right to take pictures of police officers.

According to Tallis, the officer then tried to take the camera away. Before giving up, the officer said that Tallis 'shouldn't have taken that photo, you were intimidating me'. The incident was caught on camera by photojournalist Marc Vallee.

Jail for photographing police? (Thanks, Kris!)


  1. Something similar has been in force in NI since the 70s. But then again, NI has had more than its fair share of terrorists who directly target the homes and families of police and bankers.


    This makes me very angry.
    It’s getting close to shouting-in-the-streets time.

  3. They have this in Kenya – any government employees or buildings are off limits.

    You can be arrested, fined, blackmailed, or just interrogated at gunpoint until your film is taken away.

    fun fun fun.


  4. If such a law had been in effect on New Year’s Eve in Oakland, California, the policeman who killed Oscar Grant would have gone free. And the several people who took pictures and videos of the murder would have themselves been in violation of the law.

    Of course the police want laws like this. The question is, what kind of cowed population will give such laws to them?

  5. What on earth is going on in the UK? The wording seems so nebulous that you could get charged for asking an officer his name and badge number, let alone photographing them.

    Cory, you ready to come back to Canuckistan yet? Maybe there’s a Governors General award in it for you… (waves shiny bauble)

  6. Why are they so worried? Do they have something to hide? If they haven’t done anything wrong, then they shouldn’t be afraid to have their privacy invaded… isn’t that how the argument goes?

  7. @patrick: Actually, the police did try to confiscate the cameras of those who recorded the Oscar Grant murder. Fortunately, some of the civilians resisted this, and got their footage out to the media.

    While this law is definitely bad, bad news, it’s worth pointing out that arbitrarily seizing/destroying cameras has been a commonplace cop activity for a long time. And unfortunately, once your camera is gone it’s a lot harder to prove that the cop ever did anything improper – including stealing or smashing your camera.

    Whether this law goes through or not, we need better strategies and technology for preventing police seizure on an individual basis.

  8. Ok … it’s like reason after reason after reason not to live there… My wife was applying to grad schools. London came up and all I could think of was this police state of england

  9. @10

    I was thinking the same thing. Grad school in the UK has its appeal to me, plus I love London and the UK. But with the costs I was thinking of giving it a pass. And now with what I’ve been reading about what’s been going on with the gradual reduction of civil liberties in the UK, I’m probably going to stay where I am.

  10. This is why having a Bill of Rights and a Constitution is a better situation than a “tradition of liberty”.

    1. you mean like the bill of rights ratified in 1689 in the uk


      “The UK has no single constitutional document comparable to those of most other nations. It is therefore often said that the country has an “unwritten”, uncodified, or de facto constitution.[1] However, the word “unwritten” is something of a misnomer as the majority of the British constitution does exist in the written form of statutes, court judgments, and treaties. The constitution has other unwritten sources, including parliamentary constitutional conventions and the royal prerogatives.” (copy pasta from wikipedia)

    2. Don’t worry, they’re quite happy to ignore the bill of rights, as we have seen. Pieces of paper don’t protect the people from power hungry bureaucrats.

  11. A great man once said:
    “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety”

    I whole hearted disagree with practically everything the UK government is doing at the moment.

    Not only is the world laughing us because a few inches of snow brings one of the most important cities in the world to a standstill. We insist on trying to enforce ancient and draconian new laws.

    I have no idea what is going on, but I don’t like it.

    @10,11 London is a great city to study in, just because this Law has been voiced doesn’t actually mean anything. We have loads of stupid laws like every other country, its just that in the cold light of day our laws make the politicians look like idiots.

  12. The United Kingdom? That’s the Orwellian police state that’s at war with Eurasia right?

    I feel sorry for their citizens, hopefully they can get their country back some day. Hopefully without a lot of bloodshed :(

  13. This has absolutely nothing to do with protecting the privacy of police officers and everything to do with making sure they can get away with lying about what really happened.

  14. Doesn’t London have one of the highest concentrations of CCTV cameras in the world?
    Sounds to me that about half the city will be jailed…

  15. England is really getting screwed up. On one hand they’re stripping people of civil liberties, especially with regard to the imbalance of Big Brother type of surveillance OF citizens vs. prohibiting citizens from recording police activity.

    On the other hand, they bend over backwards to be so “politically correct” that they are making ridiculous totally unfair rules that infuriate much of the population and do nothing to advance the goal of a harmonious multi-cultural society.

  16. So if your camera phone can automatically post pictures to flickr, then I think a good counter measure for this is to use that kind of technology if “anti checks and balances” measures like this keep coming up (who watches the watchers?).

    In fact I would be willing to buy a cheap camera which was basically a jail-broken phone with really good photo and video capability. Slip in your sim card, go take photos which get posted to a private storage online (or your blog). If the fuzz take it, no biggie .. the photos don’t exist on the “wireless cam.” I can see a world where journalists have to resort to this kind of spytek for the good stories.

  17. Remember, remember, the 5th of November!


    And here I thought V For Vendetta was a work of fiction.

  18. Why doesn’t someone develop a camera with a SIM card? You could take pictures and instantly beam them out of the country with the cell phone modem. If you were stopped by cops, you could forfeit a dummy 16mB card to the cops and be on your way.

  19. “It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under this section to prove that they had a reasonable excuse for their action.”

    1. I like navy vessels.
    2. Cool uniform.
    3. The light’s great right now in this railway station.

  20. #14 has a point. If it’s ok for big bro to watch over you, why isn’t it ok to watch over big bro. Hey who are you guys? What are you doing? let go of me. hey, that hurts! Stop beating me! help!

  21. Why not include the guard at Buckingham Palace with this law. They’ll be able to arrest and fine several thousand tourists per day. Could be a whole new revenue stream for the city – perhaps even enough to offset the cost of upkeep for the feckless inhabitants of the above mentioned abode.

    1. They are included by this law: it applies to the military as well as the police. Actually, since the Royal Family are all members of the Armed Forces, I guess you can’t take a photograph of them either…

  22. I bet they don’t have laws like this in Calitomia. And I read that Arnerica is still the land of the tree.

  23. Time to arrange a mass protest action: get a large crowd together and go around taking portraits of every policeman in sight.

    Get your lawyers on board first. But there’s a long history of using that kind of nonviolent mass action to point out cases where the law is unreasonable…

  24. So, how can this type of thing be stopped? I don’t think it’s a ‘write your congressman’ kinda thing. What’s scary is not knowing what to do if it happens here…

  25. Does this mean it’ll cost me 10 years to take the picture of me taunting a Buckingham guard that I’ve always dreamed of?

    Seriously UK, please stop killing my hopes that citizenries won’t just take whatever craziness authorities impose on them in the name of “safety.”

  26. Sigh. I was going to visit Britain someday. Now, what if I take a picture without noticing there’s a cop in it? Or take a picture of someone I don’t know is a cop (say, an undercover cop who’s beating up a bystander just for fun)? Not to mention the general “if you’re a cop, you can do anything you want with no consequences” attitude this betrays about UK society.

    Is there a free country left in the world? Let me know, please.

  27. OK, when it says “set to become law” does that mean it’s been through all the processes, somehow with no one noticing Britain sinking into fascism and objecting while it was still going through…whatever process you have over there?

    Can the government just make laws like this, or do they have to pass Parliament and stuff like that? Does the Queen have to sign garbage like this? How does that work?

  28. Violating his privacy? a public servant out in public? WHAT Privacy??

    and ‘intimidation’? I call “I’m looking for an excuse to bust you” BS.

  29. Great. Just great.

    Maybe I’m reading too many Doctorow posts, but I’m getting the distinct impression that the UK is going down the crapper.

    Too bad we let them into the EU, they’ll infect the rest of us with their disease.
    Maybe we can let/make them leave?

  30. When I first heard about this possibility I thought the guy saying it was a nut. After all, this self same nut said 9/11 was an inside job and I didn’t believe that. But even a broken clock is right twice a day. It’s a Brave New World lads. I predict we will all be chipped with personal locaters before we die. The next generation will be chipped with mood watchers to catch you before you do naughty things. The generation after that will feel only what they state dictates.

  31. My wife wants to visit London, one of our favorite places, again. I’m saying never again–somewhere else can take its place. Orwell certainly gauged the British national character correctly, didn’t he?

  32. This just has me wondering what I can do to protect myself against the police. Where do I get some of that riot gear so I can armor up when I want to go out taking pictures? Seriously…

    And aren’t the US and UK in cahoots against all the terrorists? This makes me wonder if (more) policies like this will be implemented in the US.

    George H.W. Bush said it way back when: it’s time for a New World Order. We’re seeing it unfold before us.

  33. How long before they close the borders? We should start a pool, I’m betting the UK closes down by 2010.

    Maybe the conspiracy theorists are right? Not in the details but in the overall direction. Which… seems pretty clear right now. “Children of Men” looks more and more to me to be a documentary.

  34. And once again I’m angry at the country I live in for introducing laws that remove freedoms, but I’m more annoyed that I can’t seem to do anything about it! I write polite letter to politicians, I (friendlily) raise the issues with co-workers and friends, who continually surprise me with the apathy, I campaign and vote in every election I can. Its not the fact that I can’t change things, as a single individual in what is still basically a democracy, I don’t expect to. I just can’t seem to effect anything at all.

  35. “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) …”

    Just curious, does “armed forces,” include police officers or just the UK’s military?

  36. #16: Yes, why aren’t there cameras with a SIM card? And I don’t mean phones with measly excuses for cameras — more high-end SRLs ought to be getting in on the game.

    I expect that it won’t actually be long before that happens — not to prevent police states, of course, but just so that people can more easily send things to Twitter or whatever. But this will certainly be a bonus. Naturally, you will also want some hooks on the server end, so that the moment a photo comes in it gets encrypted and mirrored to other servers…

  37. back on the BART shooting thread someone mentioned streaming video software to realtime upload your evidence of police crimes. Also saw (Salon?) cops somewhere in the USA requesting authority for Wifi signal jamming gear use “to prevent terrorist communications and detonation signals”

    Everyone everywhere better prick up their ears, this shit is coming fast and furious because they want to overwhelm what little defenses your residual freedom has.

  38. #16, #37: Re: Cameras with SIM cards: A lot of modern camera phones (e.g. Sony-Ericsson Cybershot series) take pretty decent pictures, and have some facility for automatically “blogging” pics. You don’t need an SLR to capture police brutality, although it would be possible to capture it better…

    In any event, just use a micro-SD/micro-M2 card in your phone. It’s literally the size of a thumbnail, so could be concealed very rapidly just about anywhere on your person.

    But, on the topic of eroding civil liberties in the UK: Sadly, I think the Red Tories are our only hope.

    (And who’da thunk it – the Conservatives coming to the rescue against the right-wing excesses of Labour…)

    Or, more cynically:

    “Curiously, none of this seems to have done a great deal to change Britain’s political apathy. You no longer imagine, it seems to me, that there might actually be such a thing as a “choice of society”. Along with New Labour, the very idea of anything resembling an ideology vanished.”

    ticked-off French journalist

  39. I’ve been asked what I was doing, in the same area as the guy in the previous Boing Boing post, the Elephant and Castle, by a community support officer (his obligatory comrade took no part in the whole thing, standing about twenty feet away looking bored).

    Trying not to laugh, I politely told him I was taking photos of walls. (I was). On request I showed him the photo. I asked him if he’d like to see more photos of walls. He didn’t want to.

    I’m not scared of the British police, nor are most British people, who would probably tell them where to get off if they tried to arrest them or whatever for taking photos that happened to have them in the frame. In the cases cited, that seems to have been what happened.

    I disagree with stop gap approaches to making law and newspaper headline based law, but all law enacted here has to pass a reasonableness test in the courts. It can be effectively ignored by the courts.

    It is legal in the UK according to the statute book to shoot a Welshman with a crossbow in Hereford between certain hours. If you try it,however, I guarantee you’ll go to jail, whatever the law says.

    I’ve written to MPs and councillors about silly laws being enacted and already in place, but not because I think I live in a police state. If I did I’d shut up and make plans to emigrate.

    A lot of this rubbish came directly from this country trying comply with anti terrorism justified requests emanating from the USA.

    I find the idea of #10 and #11 fearing to leave what they think is some sort of heaven of civil liberties in order to study in the dangerous UK police state very funny, but not a major cause for concern. Just take up that scholarship to MIT, and forget about Imperial College, they have security cameras in the lobby.

  40. @26 Contact your representative? How were you planning to do that? Do you have his/her address or e-mail? That’s identifying information, buddy! I’ll wager your pals in al-Qaeda would pay a handsome sum for that information, eh? Right then, up against the wall.

  41. need a flying squad of police-crime photographers who hang back with long lenses. For demos and events anyway. Someone better than the regular press.

  42. #44 @TAKUAN:

    Thank you sir for pointing out that little tidbit. It had not gone unnoticed.

    The first wave was drugs, the second was copyright and media. Technologies that watch the watchers will be the third wave of criminalization.

    The name of the game is information power asymmetry. Have you seen FLIRs on the side of cop cars in your city yet?

  43. nglnd hs cmpltly nd ttrly dsrmd thr ppltn. Prvt wnrshp f wpns s frbddn. Nc wrk, y dts. Nw th gvrnmnt cn d nythng t wnts t y. Y hv lrdy lst. Ths s why w mst dfnd r 2nd mmndmnt rghts n th S. bm jst ppntd spr gn-grbbr ttrny gnrl. W r bt t g dwn th sm tlt s Brtn.

    Rmmbr, th 2nd mmndmnt s wht prtcts yr thr rghts. Whn psh cms t shv, yr gns r th lst prtctn gnst th plc stt.

    1. happykittybunny,

      Please review the Moderation Policy and let me know if you’re prepared to abide by it.

  44. @Thermobarictom:

    I know how it is to feel that your efforts are wasted as the things important to you are ignored by the people you help to put into office. I know many people that feel the same way. The problem stems from continuation of the same old politics, electing the same types people to power. More regular people need to seek political office, so that the needs and wants of the “everyman” wouldn’t go overlooked by fear-mongering corporate lackees.

  45. @HappyKittyBunny:


    “Your last protection” going to do much against the satellites, drones, chemical attacks, heat rays, tanks, and fully armored goons of the modern police state?

    Hahahahahahaha. Wee.

    Yeah, they’re quaking in their big iron boots.

    It’s no longer the 18th century, buddy. There ain’t no well-armed militia whose pea-shooter can dent that rust-proof footware.

    Earlier posters got it right, anyway… it’s not an unarmed population that’s allowing the UK to drink so deep from the kool-aid… it’s the lack of a Constitution and Bill of Rights. That’s why they’ve tried so hard to get rid of ours here in these United States.

    But just watch how bad it gets if they actually succeed it getting rid of the cameras…

  46. Thank god we rid the world of the Red Menace, and the free markets of capitalism have ensured our own freedom.

  47. So, how can this type of thing be stopped? I don’t think it’s a ‘write your congressman’ kinda thing. What’s scary is not knowing what to do if it happens here…

  48. What is truly frightening to me is the number of comments, on any given story where the police have demonstrably abused the healthy dose of discretion afforded them, in which people flock to their defence. Police are way out of control, and so are the government nitwits who are empowering them.

  49. Once you turn over the responsibility of your “protection” to the state, there’s no telling where they’ll stop for your own good. Eat it up, merry old England. The terrorists have already won.

  50. Edited and shortened version of note sent to British Tourist Board this morning;

    Hello England! Believe it or not, my wife and I were planning a trip to visit you in the summer of 2009. We wanted to see London, tour part of the Thames and related canals by boat and visit some of your railway/museums. A final stop would have been dinner at Claridge’s in London. We had planned on a three week trip.

    Please be given to understand, that as a result of this new law, and various other Orwellian measures we heard about in the news recently, we won’t be coming. That’s two full fare adult tourists NOT spending about 5k total in your country.

    We’re going to The Netherlands instead. They have canal boats too. I won’t feel afraid to take holiday photos.


  51. That’s just… disgusting.

    Reading (Doctorow’s) Little Brother, I had assumed you were “imagining” a distopic near future, but clearly we’re already there.

    Thank you, Mr Establishment. Thank you kindly. I’ll just go back to chewing grass and staring up at the electric fence…

  52. or is that the actual plan? Too press the general population to the point they revive IRA tactics and thereby “justify” REAL oppression? Summary executions perhaps?

  53. Hrmm.

    I poked around a bit and found the two Acts in question:
    Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 and Terrorism Act 2000

    If you search for “elicits or attempts to elicit” in the 2008 Act, you get right to the amendment to the 2000 Act. Pop on over to Section 58 of the 2000 Act and you find that it is already “illegal” to photograph or have a photograph of the police. Here’s the relevant bits:
    “58 Collection of information

    (1) A person commits an offence if—

    (a) he collects or makes a record of information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, or

    (b) he possesses a document or record containing information of that kind.

    (2) In this section “record” includes a photographic or electronic record.”

    So, when the Section 58A language is added to the 2000 Act by the 2008 Act, darn near any journalist-like behavior that any terrorist has ever done (ask questions, take pictures) it could be considered “useful” to a “terrorist”.

    As for SIM card cameras, dig around near the end of the 2008 Act and you find bits about hosting services, etc. who have to knock the content offline expediently when notified that the content is “useful information” to a potential terrorist, in order for that hosting provider to not be charged under the Act… So, make sure the server hosting your photos is outside the UK!

  54. This is disgusting.
    But on the other hand, how is it possible to be for anyone’s right to photograph anything, while simultaneously be against CCTV cameras?

    I don’t get that bit.

  55. remember how that National Front membership list got leaked? Care to bet that a similar list of cops will hit the net soon? Push and you get pushed back.

  56. Do people in England honestly have NO idea that this crap is going on? Do they have one of those friggin’ Chinese firewalls that stops information like this from getting to the citizens?

    It’s easy enough for me to make cracks about England’s “War on tourism” since I’m not planning on visiting there again, like, ever.. but I LIKED England while I was there. As a Canadian citizen I don’t want to see them become any more Orwellian than they already have, and God knows they’ve already gone way way way further down that road than you’d think is necessary.

    I really hate to quote CounterStrike, but I think a “Terrorists Win” sound effect is apropos here.

  57. TO EVERYONE ASKING: Why isn’t there a camera with a SIM Card? Good question. Seems like something we could use.

    Till then- don’t forget, there is a solution. EYEFI SD cards ( will beam your stuff wirelessly from your camera. They use a Wi-Fi connection in the area to do this. It’s basically like having a SIM card in your camera, but better!

    We need to start a fund with the EFF to buy a ton of these EYEFI cards, and distribute them to prominent journalists and average citizens. Once the all-seeing eyes of Brittain have people able to beam up to the internet INSTANTLY anything they see that they don’t like, there will be a shitstorm of bad press against all of this Orwellian bullshit, and maybe people will finally throw out Mad Jaccqi Smith on her fat ass.

  58. Piers W makes some interesting points. It’s hard for me to judge if this is all just internet driven over reaction or if what Piers says is more accurate and the reality not quite so extreme.

    “all law enacted here has to pass a reasonableness test in the courts. It can be effectively ignored by the courts.”

    That isn’t how it works in the US nor a good many other places. It may be why those of us outside the UK are alarmed by news like this and also why Brits are more nonchalant. Unless of course that ability to ignore “unreasonable” laws were to suddenly disappear. Then you’d be truly f*cked.

  59. wow… time to join the league of crooks… Ummm…I mean become a police officer… ;)
    no photographic evidence=no crime????

  60. OK: fact: CCTV has been forced on Londoners wholesale. Idea: private cop-watch dedicated CCTV parallel installations that stream storage to an out-of-country site. I’ll bet you could find plenty of private property owners willing to subscribe and give space for Cop-Watch CCTV mounts. Get enough saturation and the cops will behave as if they are the ones always surveilled.

  61. There was this bit on Colbert last night about some poor guy who was arrested by Amtrak police for taking pictures in a train station. Turns out the guy was taking pictures for a photo contest sponsored by -wait for it- Amtrak.

    Proliferation and continued miniaturization of cameras will make effective enforcement of these laws next to impossible.

  62. it already has. And they know it. It’s security theater to get people afraid and ready to OBEY.
    There’s another angle: embarrassing photos of the politicians that sponsor this shit. Put them on the net.

  63. The War on Capturing Light continues.

    In the wake of the US election a lot of people are saying ‘we need an Obama too’.
    Unfortunately the political parties in the UK take that to mean a charismatic black guy – what we mean is someone, anyone, who isn’t a fucking Nazi!

  64. Cory,

    You know I have the greatest of respect for your writing and campaigning.

    But I have to say that the title of this post is, well, perhaps a bit misleading. After all, would you post to say ‘UK has “steal a Mars Bar, 7 years in jail” law’? Because technically it does – see Section 1 of the Theft Act 1968.

    The maximum penalty prescribed under law for a crime and the actual sentences typically given bear little if any relation to one another. With few exceptions (such as murder, or possession of a handgun) UK law does not have mandatory minimum sentences. The chances of anyone getting ten years in prison for photographing a police officer is zero. In fact, I’d go further than that and say that the chances of anyone even being charged for the isolated act of photographing a police officer is negligible.

    Yes, the growing number and scope of so-called anti-terror laws under New Labour is a matter of serious concern. A lot of it seems to step from a misguided belief that the only way to prevent terrorism is to criminalise every imaginable behaviour that might conceivable be a precursor to it, apparently on the assumption that our long-standing laws on ‘attempting’ and ‘conspiring to commit’ offences aren’t good enough.

    And as a photographer myself I’m very aware of the creeping demonisation of public photography – although a lot of the blame for that rests with tabloid newspapers that would have us believe that anyone taking pictures in public is a paedophile.

    But does trying (and by the look of some of the comments, successfully) to convince the rest of the world that the UK is some sort of North Korea with warm beer really help?

  65. As a Yank expat living in the UK things do continue to confuse me here a bit. #47’s comments ring true.

    Cops in general let people get away with WAY more shit than in the States. Do you know the cops can and do “de-arrest” people here? Try that one at home.

    The working people at large have way more balls here. You might have seen the recent wild cat strikes.
    So I agree that just because it gets talked up or proposed it won’t necessary become law or be strictly enforced but it does concern me that such things are even considered AND that there are forces out there that would love to see it so.

    All in all the UK is a great place to live and the people are a hoot. On everyday levels they seem a bit conformist and do still practice the stiff upper lip thing but push them just a little too far and all that goes away real quick.

  66. @85 Simon Bradshaw:

    It’s not so much the 10-year penalty that’s the problem. You’re right; convictions are not likely to be common and ten-year stretches are really unlikely. The problem is it gives a cop a priori legal leeway to snatch your camera. You’ll likely get your camera back, but, well, shame about the film [SD card][camera].

  67. Folks, as a not-yet-qualified UK lawyer, I should explain that “armed forces” does NOT refer to police forces. It refers to HM Armed Forces, the Army, Navy and Air Force.

    For one thing, only in my locale, Northern Ireland, are the police armed. And even then, they’re defined as a service, not a force.

    This is a “poke around military sites, go to jail” law.

  68. And I should add that “reasonable grounds to suspect” doesn’t work in the UK as it does in the US. A judge will generally, and certainly in the higher courts, use the metric of “would a normal person think this was reasonable?”, not a set of operational boundaries or activities.

  69. @14
    “The United Kingdom? That’s the Orwellian police state that’s at war with Eurasia right?”
    Wrong, We are at war with Eastasia and always have been – the thought police are on their way to collect you.

  70. @86 BJacques,

    If any police officer tries that with me, I will very politely remind him or her that (1) they cannot confiscate property from me, and (2) that absent a court order, forcing me to erase pictures from my CF card* is arguably** an offence under the Computer Misuse Act.

    *Yes, I have the last low-end SLR Canon made that uses CF rather than SD cards, although this is hardly one of life’s larger crises.

    **I don’t think anyone has every actually tried this. But, on the basis of an LLM in IT/IP law and my discussions with other lawyers, it does seem to me that the definition of ‘computer’ in the CMA is wide enough to encompass a digital camera, in which case interfering with data on one is a criminal offence.

  71. I can see that most commentators here aren’t used to reading legislation. Settle down: it’s not nearly as bad as you think it is. I don’t think you can construe taking a photograph as “eliciting information”; and a photograph of a policeman is hardly “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”.

    I think this legislation is vague and stupid, but it should be opposed on its merits and not because you imagine that photographs of the Household Guards will suddenly become illegal.

  72. Brits *do* elect their own MPs, right?

    I am just confused as to how so many stupid laws end up passed in that country that nearly the entire population disagrees with. Are politicians held to an even lower standard in the UK than they are here in the States?

    1. Are politicians held to an even lower standard in the UK than they are here in the States?

      MPs can be more or less forced to vote the party line. They have less opportunity to vote their conscience than US congress members. It usually only makes the headlines when it’s around something like stem cell research.

  73. I said it before: The UK is becoming the new US.

    Even Patriot Act looks tame compared to what they are introducing now. It’s starting to get WORSE than in the absurd Sci-Fi movies, depicting the UK as some dictatorial dystopia. Worse!

  74. “which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”

    1. The burden of proof rests with the police to prove the “of a kind”.

    2. “useful to a person…” – would this be guilt by none association?

    3. ‘terrorism’ – the term has never really be properly defined. One persons act of terror is another’s fight for freedom.

    Regardless of any of this, clearly the REAL problem is one whereby a legal system creates laws that:

    A. Are poorly defined.

    B. Open to interpretation.

    C. Allows law ‘enforcers’ to use such a law as a pretext for detaining someone.

    Theoretically, the JUSTICE system should prevent the abuse of laws. Unfortunately, the assessment of the individual incidents is after the event.

    The problem in the UK is that laws are being created that do little to protect the individual and everything to protect the State that creates them. I believe that could be judged to be oppressive and dictatorial.

  75. @5: Right on. I live in Oakland and that’s exactly what I was thinking when I read this. If it hadn’t been for the folks who shot those videos of the BART police going buck wild, they would have gotten a lot closer to getting away with…whatever it was they did. (One of the last moments in the first video that was made public was a cop trying to confiscate the phone of the woman holding her camera. Thankfully, she had the presence of mind to keep and publish it.)

  76. Looks like V for Vendetta. You realize Americans became American specifically for this kind of crap right? Welcome back to the days of King George.

    Unreasonable search and seizure, quartering troops…that’s great.

    Someone over there needs to start fighting the power. At least Obama is paying lipservice to privacy and liberty.

  77. See, this law would potentially make sense if there had been a case of terrorists targeting police in the UK… except I think the last time that happened was probably by the IRA.. if indeed they ever did such a thing.

    Does the person who came up with this rule actually believe this is a real threat? Truly? Have they paid any attention to the world around them? UK.. time for a new government, chaps!

  78. cops are legalized gangs, and cameras are now the new guns. its the peoples right and duty to not get beat down, and not allow these laws to get passed or obeyed..


  79. @47 – Thank you for pointing out the difference between reality and legal technicality. The number of comments here from Yanks saying they’ll never visit the UK because of it’s terrifying Orwellian police state is hilarious.

  80. This new legislation will not stop the press from taking legitimate ‘generalist’ photographs of police officers on patrol or tourists taking a photo of a police officer. What it is there for is to stop certain people from taking photographs of police at football matches and protests and then publishing websites showing a police officer, name of officer and their personal contact details such as home address gleaned from the electoral role and encouraging people to go and harass them or worse, or indeed providing a means for terrorists to attack the officers.

    To prosecute you and get the CPS to agree to a charge, the images would have to be exhibited, so basically the court would be the ones to decide if your images were likely to aid terrorism, not the police.

    As the offence is indictable, that means a jury decides.

    I wouldnt worry about this piece of legislation.

  81. Dear United Kingdom-

    You all need to read Little Brother. Right now.


    Everyone who read Little Brother and had nightmares for weeks

  82. They work for us.

    Every member of government should be on camera & GPS 24/7.

    If they’re not doing anything wrong, then why would they object?

  83. I’m puzzled by this law. What exactly is this supposed to protect? How is this meant to benefit society? This makes no sense.

  84. WTF!

    I don’t even live in the UK and this makes me angry!

    So basically if cops do the wrong thing and abuse their powers, you’re not allowed to take photographic evidence of them doing so.

    That is so fucked up on so many levels! ARRRGGGHH!!!

    What is this world coming to?

  85. does this include when a police officer is kicking your arse and onlookers are video taping it. I cant wait to see

  86. Glad to see the US isn’t the only country losing it’s spine and it’s marbles.
    Lets drink to our doom.

    -Your strange cousin across the pond

  87. Love America, was a joy to take the boyfriend there for his first visit at the end of last summer.
    But seriously any American who is not going to come and visit the UK because they think we’re some Orwellian hellhole is likely too stupid to realise we also drive on the right side of the road and they’ll get killed by a car the first time they step off the pavement.
    This is a law that refers to the “Armed Forces” which is the military and certainly not our Police who are famously unarmed.
    So please come and visit. But don’t go sneaking around military bases taking photos. Mind you if you did I doubt you’d be looking at ten years in prisons.
    And as others have pointed out NOBODY (British of otherwise) will ever be sent to prison for ten years for taking a picture of a police officer.

  88. They are the guardians of property, their privacy is a serious concern. Images, recordings both visual and auditory, names, squads and badge numbers are to be concealed, any transmission of such data to unapproved peoples is felonious, SWAT vests must say POLICE and never an ID number. This is to protect them and their families.

    Citizens, your privacy is a trifling thing not to be worried about unless you are up to no good. EZPass/rfid records, metadata of telecommunications, search records, financial records, and all location based data are to be made available to law enforcement without any oversight and warranting procedure, this is to protect you and your families. The tools of the panopticon are for official use only. Knowing anything about officials is prohibited. Full disclosure of everyone else’s life is mandatory.

  89. Am I missing something?

    The law reads to me more like a tool to use against those who have stolen or acquired documents related to security, rather than a way to stop people from photographing police.

    It’s hard to wade through the outrage and sensationalism to see what’s really going on here.

    Narrow views on matters like this may cause outrage, but they certainly won’t change anything.

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