Sunday, 15 February 2009

Born of Ignorance and the Parent of Anger and Hate

As from tomorrow, this could be an act of terrorism in the UK. I have no excuse.


This is the same country that has shops with CCTV and yet no prices on their products. Where there are few police walking the street, as they are driving impersonal vehicles from one crime scene to another. Where the lawmakers seem to ignore the laws and policies of their own country, and are so distant from the citizens that they are supposed to represent, that I have really given up caring when I hear of yet another incident.

We have so many bad laws in this country, that I’ve given up caring if we have yet another vague piece of paperwork that allows the increasingly arrogant lawmakers to allow the security forces to do what they want – one would hope it is what they need, but I doubt it. What is needed to protect our security? Curfew? ID tags? Barcodes tattooed onto our arms? Retinal scans via CCTV to log our shop browsing patterns?

The Law

After section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (collection of information) insert—

“58A Eliciting, publishing or communicating information about members of armed forces etc

(1)A person commits an offence who—

(a)elicits or attempts to elicit information about an individual who is or has been—

  (i)a member of Her Majesty’s forces,

  (ii)a member of any of the intelligence services, or

  (iii)a constable,

which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, or

(b)publishes or communicates any such information.

Source: Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 (c. 28) Part 7

And note this well: (2) It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under this section to prove that they had a reasonable excuse for their action.

Yes – our lawmakers think that we citizens need an EXCUSE – not a reason – for our actions. I am INNOCENT until you prove that I am Guilty – not until I give you an EXCUSE to find me Innocent.

We deserve better from our government. The security services need a democracy and a citizenry worthy of protection – not to be seen as potential criminals. I don’t think I will be voting for Gordon Brown again.

I wonder if STV will be pulling “Doctors and Nurses at War” from the schedules on Tuesday night? It tells the names of military personnel - faithful in adversity - where they work, and shows general locations of their homes and families.


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 British Journal of Photography

Media Event: “I’m a Photographer … not a Terrorist” Hosted by the National Union of Journalists and supported by the British Journal of Photography and the British Press Photographers’ Association. New Scotland Yard, Broadway, Westminster, London SW1H, UK. Monday 16 February 2009. 11am.

Marc Vallée - PhotoJournalist

Tallis is a member of the National Union of Journalists and the British Press Photographers' Association. 'The incident lasted just 10 seconds, but you don't expect a police officer to try to pull your camera from your neck,' Tallis tells BJP.

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.

The British Journal of Photography

This legislation would appear to be yet another chilling move by the UK in encouraging harassment of photographers. Last year you might remember that the London Metropolitan Police launched a very public advertising campaign asking people to turn in “odd” looking photographers.

Thomas Hawk’s Digital Connection

QuantcastFear is the only true enemy, born of ignorance and the parent of anger and hate.”


Mac E said...

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a communist;

Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist;

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist;

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew;

Then they came for me...

...and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Martin Niemoeller.

Mac E said...

When the government fears the people, you have liberty; when the people fear the government, you have tyranny

Thomas Jefferson, April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826.

AktoMan said...

If the current batch of lawmakers laugh off facts, are we left with nothing but rhetoric?

Gordy said...

"The judges ordered that, in future cases, the Crown would have to prove that defendants clearly intended to engage in terrorism or that the items they possessed were of practical use to a terrorist.

Relevant, I hope. :O)

AktoMan said...

Nice find, Gordy. As ever, the unelected Judges have to interpret laws that the lawmakers fail to write properly.

AktoMan said...

Article in Monday's Telegraph:
New law making it an offence to photograph a policeman should worry us all

Gordy said...

As far as I can gather, a link to terrorism still has to be proved.

You could be done for baking muffins if that was proved to be part of your evil terrorist plot.


AktoMan said...

Reminds me of the post-WW2 plot to distribute poisoned bread.

So, lets see what we have so far ... if caught taking a photograph of a police officer. The photographer can be detained without charge for a period of days (not hours) whilst the authorities undertake an investigation to find a terrorist connection. Then the 'case' comes for review, and only then do the judiciary get involved to say that there is no terrorist link found, and that the photographer can go 'free'. Back to a life where an abrupt separation from family and work can lead to strife.

We, the citizens, the people that the authorities are supposed to be protecting, have no reciprocal rights. Our privacy is invaded more and more by CCTV, by computer data being lost or stolen, by coppers trying to get a job done but are restricted by dodgy laws, overbearing paperwork and poor funding. If I take a photo of a police officer doing their job, it is to show how good they are as they go about their job. If that gets posted on Flickr, what's to stop some bad fellow from using that for terrorist aims?

Gordy said...

Are you really telling me you felt more protected from vicious officialdom last week than you feel this week?

I don't think this amended legislation is going to make things any better or worse than they have been for a wee while now.

AktoMan said...

From the OP, Gordy, I think it is just another nail in the coffin for any respect that I have for our elected officials. The UK police could pretty much do anything they wanted if people failed the "attitude test".

I agree with former MI5 chief: "It would be better that the government recognised that there are risks, rather than frightening people in order to be able to pass laws which restrict civil liberties, precisely one of the objects of terrorism - that we live in fear and under a police state"
Full story

As it is, I'm currently watching "Doctors and Nurses at War" on ITV. Good series about the RAMC out in Afghanistan. Life is too short to worry and I'll blog about it if anything happens.

Podcast Bob said...

Bizarre isn't it?

When there's a crime the first thing the Police do is seek to ask the public for photos and videos they can use as evidence.

This sucks big time and the knock on effect is the protests and violence it will lead to. Jackie Smith went to the local Chavs school and I thus, rest my case.

Video of the protest in London

scott said...


I'm no' with you on this one Duncan. You'd need to persuade me how your photie could fall foul of any reasonable interpretation of that section.

Notwithstanding Podcast's erudite summary, obviously.


AktoMan said...

It isn't you that has to be 'persuaded' Scott. It's the Special Branch officer who finds a pile of photos of military personnel or coppers in some Malky-Heedier cell's computer. All tagged with the 'innocent' photographer's Flickr account.

There's no 'reasonable interpretation' - just what is written. If I wasn't a wimp, and mistrustful of the 'law', and appreciative of the fact that the polis have a job to do, I'd be tempted to go out and snap as many photos of them doing their job - faces, numbers, ID tags - and publish them. Then see how long before there's a knock on the door. I reckon I wouldn't get back home without 'helping them with their enquiries'.

It wasn't something I'd do prior to Monday, so I'm not going to do it now. Nothing to do with the revision to the Act, just not in my nature.

scott said...

"...of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism"

That's the important bit. I reckon most of us could argue/find someone to argue our way out of that.

AktoMan said...

Aye. Once held without trial, charged and then allowed a "reasonable excuse for their action".

If it stops the bad guys from gathering data on our people, aiding their kidnap and murder, then more power to the Law ... oh, the bad guys were already able to be charged if they did that sort of thing. Maybe it closes a loophole that the bad guys could exploit?

Hey ho. We'll hear about it in the next year, I guess.

Londonbackpacker said...

Just picked this up from T.O.P
can't imagine photographs like this will be taken under the new law.

I wonder if Lucy Smickersgill or Tony Parker will be getting a visit for identifying a police officer.

The full article from the Guardian is here