I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist campaign for photographers' rights

The Photographer Not a Terrorist campaign is a new British organisation devoted to helping photographers whom the authorities have busted or harassed for being potential terrorists, kidnapping innocent photons with deadly light-sensors.

They've got a "bust card" explaining your rights to you and the officers you interact with, as well as a sticker/poster design and a gallery of photographers holding "I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist" signs.

Photography is under attack. Across the country it that seems anyone with a camera is being targeted as a potential terrorist, whether amateur or professional, whether landscape, architectural or street photographer.

Not only is it corrosive of press freedom but creation of the collective visual history of our country is extinguished by anti-terrorist legislation designed to protect the heritage it prevents us recording.

This campaign is for everyone who values visual imagery, not only photographers.

The campaign is run by a collection of concerned individuals and owes no allegiance to any single organisation.

We must work together now to stop this before photography becomes a part of history rather than a way of recording it.

I'm a Photographer, not a Terrorist (Thanks, Glyn!)


  1. I’m all in favour of this, but I did notice that the bust card says you don’t have to give your name.

    This is technically true, but arguably a receipe for getting yourself a lot of agro. All the police have to do is decide that you are suspicious and then they can search you, and that includes looking in your wallet, which almost certainly has your name in it.

    So, refusing to give your name is pointless, and while I have no experience of this either way, apparently it makes them pissed off too — which would be bad for you.

  2. I live in the USA, so that card doesn’t directly apply to me, but I have thought about this. I don’t think that any knowledge of my rights will protect me on the spot, although it might help me get my camera or phone back later.

    I put together a mailing group on my Blackberry that includes my US government work email, a USA friend w/ gmail, three friends in Europe, Twitter, Youtube, my Blogspot, and Livejournal. I can ship out any picture or video as soon as I take it. That takes a few clicks per pic, though.

    Someone should write an iResist app that will automatically ship any picture or video you take off to a distribution list. Snap, ship. Stop, ship.

  3. The photo and the tone of the ad are dark and scary. Bad ad. The ad should be bright and friendly, without the intimidating hoard of paparazi.

  4. One second here fellas..

    There’s photography for the sake of art, which we should protect.

    There’s photography for the sake of journalism, which we should protect

    And then they’re photography for the sake of “OMG Lindsay Lohan is hold hands with another girl”. Which frankly is disgusting and has grown into a nuisance thanks to the growing paparazzi industry.

    Remember why Princes Dianna’s car was going so fast?

  5. We’re making progress: the Metropolitan Police’s revised policy guide on photography may not be all we want, but it does at least acknowledge some important points:

    …Members of the public and the media do not need a permit to film or photograph in public places and police have no power to stop them filming or photographing incidents or police personnel…

    …The Terrorism Act 2000 does not prohibit people from taking photographs or digital images in an area where an authority under section 44 is in place…

    …Officers do not have the power to delete digital images or destroy film at any point during a search…

    …It should ordinarily be considered inappropriate to use Section 58a to arrest people photographing police officers in the course of normal policing activities, including protests, as without more, there is no link to terrorism…

    The wider issue is of course the concern about abuse of s.44 TA 2000 search powers. But this document is a start, and anyone taking photographs in the Met area would do well to carry a printout of it – not just to refer police to, but to show to officious members of the public who seem to think that photography is some sort of bizarre hybrid between terrorism and child abuse.

  6. I understand the whole homeland security thing. (Hey, it’s nice to not have to live looking over your shoulder all the time). But as time goes on it seems more ridiculous. Now, the art of photography is at stake. Hell even people just looking for memories.

  7. Ignoring the press and individual freedoms implications for a moment, from a feasibility point of view, trying to prevent photography in a public area is just fucking ludicrous. We all walk around with cameras held to our ears. Do we really think we’re going to stop motivated terrorists from obtaining ‘ze top secret fotografs’?

  8. This is an epidemic that seems to be spreading to other policing agencies around the world. With the Olympic games coming to Vancouver, the transit police have launched a campaign asking citizens to report suspicious activity, including use of SLR cameras at transit stations: http://www.apeman.org/2009/03/18/228/

    When will the stupidity end.

  9. @ #10 ANONYMOUS

    “They look exactly how I would expect a terrorist to look.”


    – We have met the enemy and he is us.

  10. Thanks for having us on BoingBoing, although you briefly took out our server this evening ;)

    To come back on a couple of comments:

    The bust card
    The bust card is intended as a guide to your rights, not advice when dealing with the police. There is always a balance when being stopped and searched between your rights – not telling them anything – and what might be advisable – giving your name and explaining what your doing. But hopefully people will use the bust card and be better informed about their rights.

    Scary Photographers
    The header image was taken at the event outside New Scotland Yard when s76 – which makes it illegal to photograph a police officer – came into force earlier this year, More info: http://www.marcvallee.co.uk/blog/2009/02/more-press-clippings/

    Jonathan Warren,
    One of the Organisers of I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist

  11. Perhaps the UK government could take some lessons from the PRC and distribute parasols (er… brollys that is) to the local constaples.

    Blocking photography in public places becomes mere child’s play!

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