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(Story picked up from Nation of Shopkeepers).

I like to take photographs. A lot of photographs. Most of them are terrible but that's the beauty of digital cameras. The junk photos haven't cost a penny to develop so they just get deleted. Everyone can then end up with a photo collection composed only of really good pictures. Visit any supermarket and you'll see a whole range of cameras and accessories to take the photos, plus those digital frames so you can have the best ones on a rolling display in your living room. Photography is a big, big industry. Unfortunately it's one the Righteous don't like.

They don't like the idea that their indiscretions could be photographed. They don't like the idea that the traffic warden who pounces before the driver's time is up can be caught in the act. They don't like the idea that the pseudoplod harassing tourists can be filmed in action. The Righteous are well aware of the power of photography as a tool of evidence and of intimidation. That's why they have so many cameras watching us all. That's why the police photograph demonstrators and football crowds. It's a powerful tool for control, and they really don't like the fact that we can all buy the tools ourselves, in almost any shop we enter, and for very small amounts of money.

As of the 16th February, if you take a photograph of a policeman, or of anything a policeman doesn't want you photographing, you go to jail for ten years. The police don't have to put up any warning signs. They wait until someone takes a photo and then pounce.

I realise our police are not the most attractive. What with stab vests, yellow visibility vests, Batman's utility belt and so on, they look like yellow Michelin men without the smile. So I don't photograph them. They used to smile, I think. Now they have that permanent 'You've done something, I know it' scowl about them and an air of arrogance and superiority that is exceeded only by those we have foolishly elected to the gravy train. There was a time, not so long ago, when I felt secure at the sight of a single policeman on the streets. No longer. They don't appear singly any more. They come in gangs and they'e armed. Now I cross the street with the hoodies whenever these bands of armed and armoured representatives of 'law' are heading my way. They can no longer be trusted. They act like Wild West sherrifs, making up their own laws and enforcing them, knowing the dusty judges will back them up. Once they used common sense and reason, but Labour have banned those things.

Still, I could at least continue my entirely harmless photography hobby unmolested, as long as I made sure none of Jacq the Ripper's hired thugs were in sight. No longer. It will be illegal to take photographs that 'could be of use to a terrorist', and if a CCTV camera catches you, you're nicked. Any policeman, plastic plod or park warden will be able to stop you, arrest you, DNA sample you and take your details in a clear act of 'We know where you live now so watch it' intimidation. They can confiscate your camera and lock you up.

'If I have nothing to hide I have nothing to fear' will be the mantra of the Righteous. 'Would you prefer to allow terrorists to take all the photos they want?' will be the justification of the drones. Both are idiotic positions. There are no signs anywhere saying 'don't take a photo because we think this might be a terrorist target'. There is no warning and no logic and no reason to this action. We are to be terrorised by those charged with protecting us from terrorism, on their whim alone.

Taking a photo is not terrorism. If all the IRA did was go around taking photos, nobody would have minded. If all the Islamic terrorists did was fill their rucksacks with batteries and SD cards and cameras, nobody would have been hurt. Taking photos harms nobody. It does not peel away layers of reality with successive shots until there's nothing left. It does not steal your soul. You cannot take a photo of a building, print it, stick pins in it and bring that building down. If that were possible, the Houses of Parliament would be lit by continuous flashguns day and night.

Photos that 'might be useful to a terrorist' are available in any newsagent shop in a big display marked 'postcards'. There's also the small matter of Google Earth which will give map views and real views of anywhere on the planet. So yes, I am happy for 'terrorists' to take all the photos they want. Although I think, in that instance, the Righteous have failed to spot the difference between 'terrorist' and 'tourist'. As do the police and pseudoplods, routinely.

Speaking of tourists. While the pound is worth about six Mexican jumping beans, this must be an attractive destination for tourism. They can get a lot of pounds for their currency. This summer, they might well flood in and take photos of Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, New Scotland Yard, King's Cross railway station, a British policeman... whereupon they will be rounded up and taken away to face a holiday extension of ten years. Tourist industry? What tourist industry? I certainly won't ever spend my money on a visit to London or any big city now, and the first wave of arrests will ensure nobody in the rest of the world will either.

What can you photograph that could not be considered 'useful to a terrorist? A flower? A bee? You can get pretty sick of 'bee sitting on daisy' photos very quickly. In fact, here's one.

That's all you need. Job done. Now what? How about a street scene - nope, could be useful to a terrorist. Buses, trains, ships? Nope. Could be useful to a terrorist. That Salvation Army parade? Nope. How about kids playing in a park? Hell, no. It would be a brave photographer indeed who would even reveal he's armed with a camera in such a situation. There is nothing you can photograph in any urban environment that could be definitely said to be of no use to a terrorist. Nothing. This new law has effectively banned all street photography. Like cigarettes, you can buy all the cameras you want but don't you dare try to use them anywhere.

Sometimes, the police ask us if we have any photos of certain times and places where a crime was committed. Maybe a street photographer caught the perpetrator in a photo without realising it. I have no doubt they will put out similar appeals in future.

Will anyone dare come forward to face the threat of ten years' prison for taking photos in public? They might not catch the criminal but they've got you, and they have quotas to fill.

I didn't trust the police before I read about this new law. Now, I will take great pains to have no contact with them at all. I will witness nothing, I will never have photographs that might be of use, and I will not waste my time reporting any crimes. The only way to deal with the police is to be unnoticed by them. Criminals don't scare me half as much as the police now. Criminals might steal my camera. The police certainly will. Criminals won't follow up by putting me in prison for ten years.

Nothing to hide? I have nothing to hide, but thanks to Labour I have a great deal to fear.
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( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
5th Feb, 2009 00:31 (UTC)
You're nicked...
'Ello 'ello 'ello, what's all this then? I'm PC Righteous, and that photo of a flower is exactly what terrorists (woooo!) could use to identify soft targets like... flower shows! So I'm arresting you for infinity billion years blah blah...

The new law is dangerous simply because it is so unspecific. What is 'material that could be of use' to a terrorist? Surely anything, depending on the hypothetical terrorist's supposed target. You're spot on that the only thing to do will be to keep as far away from them as possible.
5th Feb, 2009 01:32 (UTC)
Re: You're nicked...
After I posted it, I wondered if the Law might decide I was inciting bees to sting or some such thing.

There really isn't a safe subject left, is there?
5th Feb, 2009 00:31 (UTC)
I hope that's not a killer bee in the photograph or I'm reporting you to Jacqboot!

I'm I the only one envisaging Summer riots across Towns and Cities, Countywide this Year? All of the previous conditions for such actions are now firmly in place. Highly Incompetent government who will never admit to the slightest mistake, deep recession, unemployment, and those who have claimed to pave our future way now being exposed for the lying charlatans they have always been, heavy handed policing that's becoming progressively worse.

There's always a point when the masses say "NO MORE" and I figure that once again we're now fast approaching that stage.

This post is deeply troubling for us all, but I get the feeling that some small fry governmental analyst has put two and two together and come up with riots from past eras. Therefore the righteous have taken these fore warnings on board and pre-empted future times.
Thus, when one burly policeman is breaking little Johnny's skull with his truncheon, whilst another is spraying his eyes with a full can of pepper spray, for the heinous crime of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Joe public will now think twice about photographing this illegal act for future use in a court of law, as a Ten Year stretch for daring to question the actions of the very agents of the righteous, will now be deemed an illegal act in itself.

Why are we the general public never made aware of these odious bills as they're passed through parliament?

Who speaks for us anymore?

The answer evidently is no-one.
5th Feb, 2009 01:37 (UTC)
Well, I plan to keep well away from any large towns as far as possible. They are going to get more dangerous, very quickly.

As for photography, there's still this:


It hasn't been banned yet. Could prove useful.
5th Feb, 2009 06:23 (UTC)
photographing policepersons
Since we all have mobile 'phones that include cameras each of us will be liable to be arrested/DNA'd whenever we get on our phones in the vicinity of a Policeman/CPSO/Civic Enforcement Officer, Council Busybody or within range of their spy cameras.
Seriously though, it is very worrying that photgraphing a demonstration will of itself become an offence. It will be interesting to see how well the Press stand up to this in Court.
Btw, when erased do mobile/camera images really go away or are they stored on the 'hard drive' ?
5th Feb, 2009 09:18 (UTC)
Re: photographing policepersons
In answer to another anonymous commenter, erased images don't go away, they are just marked as available space for new files so perhaps the best course of action would be an immediate format of your memory card if you see one of Jacqboot's stormtroopers approaching.

You can then recover the pics in the comfort of your own home later with freely available software.

Just remember not to take any more pics on the card as they could make it impossible to recover your earlier pics.
5th Feb, 2009 14:06 (UTC)
Re: photographing policepersons
SD and similar cards - like hard disks - still retain traces of files after re-formatting that can be recovered if you've got the time, the money and the kit. Secure erasing is possible but not in a panic on the high street.

Take care out there.
6th Feb, 2009 00:00 (UTC)
From the link - "A Cleveland Police spokeswoman explained: (blah, blah, blah, spin, spin, spin, official pap then came this the most telling bit): Nevertheless, in order to VERIFY a person's actions as being ENTIRELY INNOCENT, police officers are expected to engage and SEEK CLARIFICATION where appropriate."

I have heard of some kind of approach to law that runs along the line of "innocent until proven guilty" or summin' I dunno...maybe that's romanticism or how they do it in the US.

Another good bit in the article prior to the aforementioned was "The incident came less than a week after it was revealed that an amateur photographer was stopped in Cleveland by police officers when taking pictures of ships. The photographer was asked if he had any terrorism connections and told that his details would be kept on file."

I suspect that the question of "do you have any terrorism connections" was put across later in a more private "interview room" situation but still the whole vibe of these encounters and this law reeks of fear mongering. What policeman (oops) asked this question? Do they really just ask that like that? Surely if they really suspected you had connections they would have had you under surveillance for months already...how many terrorists do they expect to encounter randomly who are just gonna spill the beans under such casual duress?

Or are we all now considered terrorist and they are just redesigning the net to catch us all up more effectively?

Anyone who pokes their head up to get an idea of the lay of the land gets it smashed in? That view is only for the rulers who arrange it for their pleasure.

As your blog regularly displays and George Orwell so correctly wrote: “We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men”.

The obvious like wake up everyone and realise that the noose is being pulled ever tighter.

"Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number —
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you —
Ye are many – they are few." in other words.

6th Feb, 2009 01:31 (UTC)
Re: Photo-terrorism
You have to love that question - 'do you have any terrorism connections?'

As if they expect a real terrorist to go 'Oh, yes, here's my CV with my previous work.'

Or maybe 'Yes - wait, damn, I mean no. Oh, you caught me out with your cunning question, Officer. I'll come quietly.'

What answer are they expecting to get, I wonder?
13th Feb, 2009 02:07 (UTC)
I'm going to carry on taking photos, it's my hobby. We should all go out and take as many photos as possible, they can't arrest us all, the prisons are fit to burst as it is. Fuck 'em.
6th Mar, 2009 15:11 (UTC)
you are a fucking retard the british police are known all over the world for being the best behaved and well trained police there is , they have to learn alot of law and at the same time deal with contstant threats and harrasment on a daily basis , did u ever think they dont want there picture taken because it could put them or there family at risk ?
its one of the most difficult jobs in the world and someone like you wouldnt last more than aday

you are a sad little man and need to grow up , i really hope your just a kid because if your a adult i feel sorry for you
8th Mar, 2009 22:09 (UTC)
Club foot.

31st Jul, 2009 12:37 (UTC)
I find myself in agreement with everything you have penned! my saddest musings is that as a collective of individuals called a nation, we seem to be happy to go along with it all! without shouting back, demonstrating, or voting out the dangerously incompetent professional politicians that rule us. Perhaps the expense scandal will open a crack inot the seethign cesspit of our govenrnign people and wake-up the masses to the frightening erosion of their basic freedoms and human rights. As for terrorism Mr Obamam has helped a little to redress some of the balance, in saying that our societies has to behave in ways that give us the right to some sort of moral high-ground. if we destroy rights and go round torturing people because of the threat, then frankly we deserve what we get as a result. As for the dangers, yes there are always dangers, life is dangerous, we can't sanitise it and wrap ourselves in cotton wool, we have to go out and live it and take the risks along the way. In reality there are no 'rights', we all die and threats abound on every corner of our lives, lets at least live with gusto and energy and passion and goodwill!
25th Oct, 2009 22:01 (UTC)
Taking pictures
The fact is the public must follow the data protection act,the police can work outside this act this gives them the right,a right we do not have
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )