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Taking photos of cops? You’re aiding terrorists, says UK

Filed by Jack Yan/January 31, 2009/13.29

[Cross-posted] As if Britain wasn’t already sufficiently heading down the V for Vendetta path (remember how last year, Mr Brown seized Icelandic funds on the grounds of terrorism—anyone know an Icelandic terrorist?), along comes amendments to the big catch-all Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 where people could be arrested and imprisoned if they take a photograph of officers ‘likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of ’, says the British Journal of Photography.
   Anything could really qualify, couldn’t it? A taking a photograph for a newspaper might fall foul of the provision. One time I photographed two French policemen hassling a street vendor. I never published it but it struck me that the gentleman was being hassled because he was black.
   Could this be helpful to a terrorist? Probably. While my motives were to document possible racism, a terrorist could use this image to show the prejudice against non-whites in the west and encourage attacks on the occident. Lucky I didn’t take the photo in Britain then.
   Equally a photograph of Big Ben with a police officer in front could be helpful to terrorists in figuring out just where policemen walked on their beat. Tourists beware. You could become a crook after taking pics of HM Life Guards (no, not the Baywatch–Alerte à Malibu sort).
   ‘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,’ says the Journal.
   ‘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”.’
   Someone found guilty could be liable for 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine.
   This goes to the heart of in the , something already eroded over the years by the European Union and now, under the guise of . If it were proposed in the United States, some would label it as ‘un-American’, striking at the heart of their . Well, this is un-British. Forgive me for having a memory, but when Britain was a regular terror target during the Troubles—when Britons were being blown up by the IRA—no such laws were required and the country muddled through.
   Policies regarded as anathema when I was a child, such as a UK , are now accepted; this is merely another in a long line of Labour policies of late that leave me unsurprised at the number of UK immigrants to New Zealand. Many are documented regularly at Alfred the Ordinary’s blog, which actually has a V for Vendetta (movie) line in its header. It is becoming more appropriate by the day unless the British public stands up—and recent events have shown that, in the words of Bob the Builder (in Neil Morrissey’s finest hour?), ‘Yes we can.’

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