Sunday, February 15, 2009

Section 76 Of The Counter-Terrorism Act 2008

From tomorrow section 76 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 comes into force.

Under the law anybody taking a photograph of a current or former member of the police, armed service or security services can be prosecuted and/or fined. The act allows for police officers to remove the cameras of people taking photographs of them.

When I was at school, not too many years ago we were taught that cameras were forbidden in the Soviet Union and in East Germany. This, our liberal teacher told us was because cameras can be used to document offences of the state against civilians; as such, they were considered a tool that can bring about civil unrest and encourage protest against the Communist Governments. This particular teacher, sneered at this particular law and the system in which it helped preserve.

We take a big step further into Labour's totalitarian state tomorrow, as professional photographers can be arrested and detained for doing their jobs. Tourists taking pictures of the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace are liable for prosecution. Taking photos in the street, at sporting events, at weddings and during state proceedings could all lead to the possibility of prosecution.

Shamefully our two houses in Parliament have failed this country and its population miserably by allowing such a massive assault on our civil liberties to be enacted.

The National Union of Journalists and the British Press Photographers' Association have been warning about the potential impacts this law will have. The fact is Under section 76, eliciting, publishing or communicating information on 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" will be an offence carrying a maximum jail term of 10 years.

The NUJ is arranging for photographers to gather outside New Scotland Yard tomorrow with photography of N.S.Y. and any nearby police officers starting at 11am, they are encouraging any one who is attending to bring their cameras. (Daniel1979 has work commitments tomorrow, but I will be happy to publish the account of anyone who does attend.)

Is this what you voted for? Do you feel safer?

In case you missed it before, here is a video clip I posted previously (from YouTube) of a PCSO trying to stop a person in the street taking photographs. From tomorrow, a PCSO will be allowed to have succeeded in this aim, and the man with the camera could have been prosecuted. There are plenty more videos on You Tube of the police trying to cease cameras or stop people taking pictures of them.


Tory Poppins said...

Dan - fantastic post. That video's sooooo disturbing! Not least the behaviour of 'one' of those officers - dontcha think?
Anyway - bravo! Let's just wait and see what happens! ;-)

Not a sheep said...

Hope to see you there; nice blog by the way.

Blue Eyes said...

There are going to be some very interesting test cases.

MH Media Online said...

Will there be others? I really couldn't make today's historic moment but I'd really like to show my support in subsequent meets..

Daniel1979 said...

MH Media.

I only learned over the weekend of the action which meant I could not attend either because of work commitments.

I will happily post notice of any further organised protests on my blog, but I am not aware of any more that are planned as of now. Today's was organised by the NUJ.

PC Plastic Fuzz said...

To assume this power will be unfairly used is in itself very unfair and very untrusting.

You seem to forget that the police have had very intense powers which have rather vague wording for years, but yet very rarely misused.

For example Section 5 of the Public Order Act says you can be arrested or fined for causing harassment, alarm or distress. I’m sure you’d agree that this power is so vague it could practically be used on anyone for any thing. How often have you heard of it being misused?

Section 59 Road Traffic Act stipulates that anyone driving in a manor likely to cause harassment alarm or annoyance to other road users can have their vehicle seized from them (even by PCSOs). That’s the vaguest wording there is. Someone honking their horn at 11pm is annoying. Failing to indicate annoys me. Hard breaking is alarming to me. If it was enforced in the draconian fashion you all think it will be, there’d be no cars on the road. They’d all be in a police pound somewhere.

The PCSO in that video has had section 59 powers for years.

Daniel1979 said...

My default position is always that of mistrust towards the state and it’s employees. That’s the way it is supposed to be. I do not feel that this is unfair. If we all trusted the state, we would all be living in council houses and bombing dirt poor countries for daring to put up oil prices.

It is not a case that I have forgotten that the police have had intense powers for years that have not been abused. It is however the case and my opinion that some police officers have abused those powers. A quick search on You Tube will provide hours and hour’s worth of videos of people being harassed and attempted and actual abuses of freedoms by the police.

How about the abuse of Terrorism Laws against Damian Green and Parliament?

How about Rueben Powell?

How about the justification of snooping on family life (and their bins) under anti-terrorism laws?

I am not attacked the police. I am attacking the law makers. The police should have no more powers than are necessary to execute their functions as protectors of the people and to bring about prosecutions under the law.

Are we supposed to be thankful that under you example that the police have not seized all of our cars? How very magnanimous of you all.

It would be my contention that this is another example of the police force being provided excessive powers that. Such extentions of power allow for the possibility abuse from individual police officers. Can you say with 100% certainty that Section 59 of the Road Traffic Act has not been abused once?

I also make the point that this is not something people want, and have voted for.
Like a plumber, a member of the police force will use all of the “tools” at his or her disposal to do their job. Unlike a plumber, Government decides on what tools they have.

I say, this law will not prevent terrorist attacks. I also say this law will be abused by individual officers, and will be used against people in the street, journalists and protestors. This is, in my opinion not a law that will protect the people, it is a law that will be used against the people.

And as for PCSO’s surely we can come up with a better solution that them. The two in the video were very quick to interrupt the free activities of an individual and very slow when challenged on the legal basis of that interruption. (Again, hour sof evidence on You Tube.)

PC Plastic Fuzz, your views are welcome on this blog, but in this case I disagree with what you have said.