Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I'm a photographer not a terrorist

In the February 2009 Section 76 of the New Anti Terrorism Act became law in The United Kingdom. This permits the arrest of anyone who may be found to be "eliciting, publishing or communicating information" relating to members of the armed forces, intelligence services and police officers, which is "likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism".(BBC News)
In the UK there have been widespread reports of people being harassed and/or searched for taking pictures in public places and in areas deemed to be 'high security' including bus stations and government offices. The British Journal of Photography has started a flickr campaign entitled, "Not A Crime" to increase awareness of these restrictions on shooting photos in public. Photographers are invited to shoot and post self portraits holding a sign with the words, "Not a crime" or "I'm not a terrorist" Some very creative conceptions are illustrated in this social media protest. I've never been hassled for taking photos in any place I have travelled. Have you been stopped, questioned, or searched for taking photos in public?


V Yonkers said...

My sister in law is from Slovakia. Last year, her parents, who speak no English, went with her and my brother to a local fair (the Tulip Fest that I mentioned before on your blog).

Her father wandered off and was taking photos when he was approached by police and asked to show ID. Having grown up in a communist country, this really terrified him. They wanted to know what he was taking pictures of. About that time was when my brother and sister in law relocated their father with the police. Everything was settled; he had to present his passport, but he did not go anywhere without his daughter after that.

Interestingly enough, I have lived here my whole life and never been asked to show ID. I am not sure what made them identify him as a suspect, unless they had heard him speaking to my sister in law and followed him for some time. I found the whole situation disturbing, even though I live in an area that was greatly affected by 9/11.

Kathreen said...

Was your sister in law's father taking pictures of tulips? I wonder what it was that caused the police officers to question him? I would find their 'out of the blue' suspicions and questions disturbing too. What bothers me is it seems so random.

V Yonkers said...

He was taking pictures of the people and atmosphere in the park. Perhaps if he were taking pictures of the tulips they would have left him alone! Perhaps, the type of venue he was taking pictures of (not necessarily people, but rather architecture and structures such as the vendors) make him "suspect." Of course, we also live in a very provincial town which normally is not a tourist destination, so hearing a foreign language spoken outside of the Universities in the area was suspect also.