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I'm a photographer not a terrorist!


It's become tougher to take pictures in the City nowadays, you can be stopped by an overzealous security guard or a police officer saying you are breaking the law by taking pictures on the location. They can even suspect you of being a terrorist or helping one.

"Set to become law on 16 February, the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 amends the Terrorism Act 2000 regarding offences relating to information about members of armed forces, a member of the intelligence services, or a police officer.

The new set of rules, under section 76 of the 2008 Act and section 58A of the 2000 Act, will target anyone who 'elicits or attempts to elicit information about (members of armed forces) ... which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism'.

A person found guilty of this offence could be liable to imprisonment for up to 10 years, and to a fine."

One thing to know and to remember is that in the UK, in public places you are free to photograph and film what ever you wish. But what is a 'public place'? It's any location not owned by a company or an individual (or the Royal Family…). Some places though like Royal Parks or Trafalgar Square may requires from you a permit if you are shooting for commercial purpose. And places like shopping malls, train stations, airports, cinemas, supermarkets or car parks are not 'public places', you will be required to hold a permit to shoot there too.

If you are in public places then the law is on your side and even some members of the police are confused about law on photography in public places. If you are stopped, don't be afraid to politely argue and protect your rights. Here is a video witnessing some abuses:

Monday 16th February 2009, the enforcement date of section 76 of the Counter Terrorism Act 2008 which could prevent the media and public from taking pictures of the police. The government is exploiting the public's fear of terrorism to pass draconian laws and restrict civil liberties. And those laws will mostly affect pro photographers or pro like photographers (big camera, use of tripod/lightstand...) who will be suspected of being terrorists by doing their job when thousands of tourists are free to use their little compact camera. Will a terrorist use a high end digital SLR or a compact camera instead?

Under the initiative of the National Union of Journalists, and in association with BJP, more than 200 photographers converged on New Scotland Yard to protest against the new law.


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