British cops deliver Catch 22 to photographers: you're not allowed to know which areas you're not allowed to photograph

In Britain, cops have the power to search you if you take a picture of a "sensitive" area, but they won't tell you which areas are "sensitive," because they're so "sensitive."

The British Journal of Photography is trying to use the UK Freedom of Information Act to find out which places in Britain have such precious photons that people who collect them without authorization can have their civil rights violated, but so far they've been unsuccessful.

There's no evidence that terrorists use photographs to plan attacks. Indeed, if disclosing the visible features of notable, iconic buildings puts them in danger, we may as well tear them all down now and get it over with, since the whole point of a notable, iconic building is that everybody knows what they look like.

The Home Office has rejected a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the BJP regarding the disclosure of the list of all areas where police officers are authorised to stop-and-search photographers under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000…

While it is common knowledge that the entire City of London [ed: the City of London is a one-square-mile financial district], at the behest of the Metropolitan Police, is covered by the legislation, it remains unclear which other areas in England and Wales have requested the stop-and-search powers…

The request asked for a 'full list of all areas – in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – subject to Section 44 Terrorism Act 2000 authorisations, which the Home Office has a statutory duty to be aware of.'

The request was rejected in late May on grounds of national security. 'In relation to authorisations for England and Wales, I can confirm that the Home Office holds the information that you requested. I am, however, not obliged to disclose it to you,' writes J Fanshaw of the Direct Communications Unit at the Home Office. 'After careful consideration we have decided that this information is exempt from disclosure by virtue of Section 24(1) and Section 31(1)(a-c) of the Freedom of Information Act…'

As part of its ongoing campaign for photographers' rights, BJP has appealed the decision, requesting an internal review of the request's handling. It has also filed 46 additional Freedom of Information Act requests to all Chief Constables in England and Wales, asking them to disclose whether they have asked for stop-and-search powers under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

All quiet on the Westminster front

(via Memex 1.1)