I saw this fascinating article over at Socialist Unity concerning the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008.
Under this new Act it is will be an offence to take a photograph of police officers ‘likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism’. And if guilty you could be looking at a 10 year stretch… So, photographers on a demonstrations, protests and so on could be defined as terrorists. This attacks our core civil liberties as photographers involved in documenting police actions whether violent or not can be arrested under Section 76.
This erodes basic human rights and freedom of expression. Documentation of events are an important aspect in a democracy, this legislation gives further powers to the cops to stop anyone documenting any kind of disturbance or altercation with Her Majesty’s Finest.
If anyone’s interested, there is a protest orgainsed by the National Union of Journalists where over 200 photographers are expected to demonstrate on Feb 16th against this rather questionable attack on a free media.
That sucks. Here in America, they’re trying to pass something called the orphan works bill- which basically states that any artwork created is in the public domain until registered with public registries (yet to be created). And that would cost money. So basically, artists would have to pay for the ownership of everything they’ve created.
Link to the act.
http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2008/ukpga_20080028_en_18 Link to the section mentioned.
“Exceptions for mere conduits
4 (1) A service provider is not guilty of an offence under section 58A in respect of anything done in the course of providing so much of an information society service as consists in—
(a) the provision of access to a communication network, or
(b) the transmission in a communication network of information provided by a recipient of the service,
if the following condition is satisfied.
(2) The condition is that the service provider does not—
(a) initiate the transmission,
(b) select the recipient of the transmission, or
(c) select or modify the information contained in the transmission.
(3) For the purposes of sub-paragraph (1)—
(a) the provision of access to a communication network, and
(b) the transmission of information in a communication network,
includes the automatic, intermediate and transient storage of the information transmitted so far as the storage is solely for the purpose of carrying out the transmission in the network.
(4) Sub-paragraph (3) does not apply if the information is stored for longer than is reasonably necessary for the transmission.”
Which indicates to me that they (whoever they are) are not going to stop the press taking photos…..
I’m all for no restrictions on civil liberties, but the intention here is for protection of staff. Considering a not so distant terror plot was to capture and behead a Muslim soldier, I can see why protection of government staff/police officers/armed forces is of conern.
Thanks for the link. Makes for an interesting debate, and I’m sure something like this will be fought out in a court of law sometime.
I’d love to trust the government on this, but of course we all know how they’ve abused terror laws in the past.
I think the real beef will be over this though:
elicits or attempts to elicit information about an individual who is or has been—
a member of Her Majesty’s forces,
a member of any of the intelligence services, or
which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, or
publishes or communicates any such information.
I’m also trying to find the articles on train-spotters being stopped for being terrorists because they take pictures of trains. Here’s one link.
Thanks Mark for the initial link to the SU post which I wrote.
The point about that specific Section is that the onus is on you to prove you are not a terrorist. Usually when it comes to criminal activity it is up to the prosecution to prove their case.
Kate, why is there a burden shift? And why is this section so loosely drawn?
This Section will help stop holding public officials to account, and this is utterly odious. And it has the stench of tyranny through it.
HappyMarx – as a civil servant, I’m going to bow out here (and I must stress that any points I make are my opinion alone…). It’ll be very interesting to see what happens in practice though, and I’m always glad to see people take note and not just accept things!