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NO2ID - Stop ID cards and the database state





Our friend who writes the Bent Society blog raises an interesting issue.
He took this photograph in the Victoria Shopping Centre in Nottingham …

… and writes …
This hooded young chap was riding his bike blatantly through a crowded indoor shopping centre. And he almost made it before being intercepted by a special constable.
As I was putting my camera away a security person in suit informed me that I was on private property and was not allowed to take photographs without permission. When I asked him why that was so, I could get no more sense out of him than you can on most nights from the average steroid-pumped bar bouncer. He did manage to say it was a rule - at least that is what I think he said. When I asked him where the signs were to inform us poor hapless shoppers of this rule he sternly informed me that because it was private property they did not have to use signs. Unable to get any more sense from him I thanked him for the information, let him know I had my picture anyway and bid him farewell.

Ridiculous, but hardly surprising in this day and age. I mean, we mustn't infringe the rights of criminals while they're getting on with their criminal job, must we, or "disrespect" an antisocial yob while he's busy antisocialising?
A trivial incident maybe, but it can sometimes get much worse. On the Phooto website there is this letter from an amateur photographer …
Just to let you know, as I don't want you getting any surprises, I got … into rather a sticky situation yesterday. We decided (most stupidly) to go for a walk to take some photos rather than go off away from the area in the car. How I wish now that I had just gone to the seaside for a stroll!
Basically, we wandered along the road and into our local park, in the mind to take some pictures of falling leaves and pretty trees etc, there was a rugby tournament going on in the park and very stupidly we took a few pictures of the players (who happened to be children). We just did not think! Suffice to say, we were approached by two heavies who wanted to know who we were, what we were doing there, why we were taking pictures, what were we going to do with them, were we going to sell them, use them on the internet, publish them - the list goes on.
We were totally honest with them, gave our names and addresses etc., they then got a Child Protection Officer from the building to come talk to us, whilst waiting we were surrounded by 3 heavies so that we could not run away - most humiliating. The CPO lady basically told us that we should not be there, or didn't have any reason to. Since when was walking in a public park illegal?
She said she would have to contact the police, which she did, and we were asked to delete our pictures by one of the rugby club members. I was not going to argue and offered to do it there and then, which we did. However, the CPO lady wanted all our details, including whether or not we were members of a specific club or association, obviously we obliged by telling her we were members of a photographic club and that our pictures were purely an aid to help us improve our photography and that they would not have been published or put on the internet, or anything else for that matter.
Anyway to cut a long story short, after a lecture and being told "we can't ask you to leave, but you have no reason to be here, so we leave it to you to do the right thing" we ambled off home (just around the corner). An hour later a police woman arrived to ascertain our identity (most humiliating) and advised us politely that if we had had children of our own attending it would have been OK but as we didn't we should not have been taking photos. She, however, seemed more concerned that the official photographer there was upset because of his livelihood! So exactly who were they protecting?

Simon Taylor who runs the Phooto website had this to say …
There are a number of points to be raised here:
• It is not in any way illegal to take pictures in a public place in the UK, irrespective of what is going on
• Children have no more right (or indeed lack of right) to privacy than an adult
• Child Protection Officers or any member of the public have no powers to demand ID from anyone
• Forcible deletion or removal of images is an assault
• Even the police officer in this case was incorrect in her interpretation of the law and the advice that it's OK to take pictures of your own children, but not of others
• After further investigation of this case, there was a club photographer at the event who was worried that these people were affecting his income, and notified the CPO. Again, as the event was in a public place (and advertised on the radio), they had exactly as much right to cover the event as he did
• There is a scheme in place to protect children involved in clubs and schools etc., which is operated by the Criminal Records Bureau. This is intended to screen people who come into close contact with children, and will give parents confidence that those people that temporarily care for their children are honest, good people. I have no problem with this (I am CRB checked myself), but it does not make the individual 'special', or give him any rights in law above any other person.

It has been suggested that bona fide members of camera clubs should carry a club ID card. Simon Taylor again …
1) OK, the credentials may be impressive, but so what? - why does this individual have any more rights, or is any more special than any other journalist, photographer, or member of the public?
2) Why should anyone restrict themselves to NOT take photographs for a commercial purpose? If you are out with your camera and get a picture of something newsworthy, you should be able to sell the image the same as anyone else.
3) Why restrict yourself to using images for competitions. Why not put pictures on the wall, or again, sell them?
4) To summarise, such a card is a huge example of 'So What?' - it makes no difference if anyone is taking pictures for journalistic, commercial or amateur purposes. So what if the card carrier is stating he is only going to use pictures for competition? I think he is restricting himself unnecessarily, without any reason to do so. If he wants to sell a picture, or just pass it to the local paper for example, he should be at liberty to do so. It's like putting a sign on your car saying 'Even though I pay my road tax, I won't use a motorway' - you are restricting yourself without any reason.

Simon Taylor is also the instigator of a petition on the No.10 website about possible laws regarding photography in public places. His point was not that a bill is in preparation, or that legislation is being prepared, but that the ID cards proposed by various bodies would serve to create an 'Über-class' of photographer and restrict the use of cameras by normal citizens.
One amateur photographer took this photograph and posted it on a local town website in Scotland …

Here is the email exchange that resulted …
From: angry person (Mon 12 Jun 2006 02:58:22 PM BST)
you have published a photo with me in it without my permission.PLEASE REMOVE IT!!!!
From: Calm Person (Mon 12 Jun 2006 04:32:20 PM BST)
Public place, Public Image. Stay indoors
From: Puzzled Person (Mon 12 Jun 2006 05:25:03 PM BST)
Newspapers print crowd scenes everyday - do they ask everyone for permission?
From: Curious Person (Mon 12 Jun 2006 05:27:45 PM BST)
Angry - which person are you there in the picture?
From: Disbelieving Person (Mon 12 Jun 2006 05:40:08 PM BST)
Hey you lot, have none of you got a life, nothing better to do on a sunny afternoon?
From: multiplex (Sun 18 Jun 2006 09:22:02 PM BST)
no one has the right to take and store photos of anyone without their prior permission
From: Calm Person (Mon 19 Jun 2006 12:25:55 AM BST)
Yes they do, if we are all in a public place. See by Linda MacPherson
From: Angry pic (Mon 15 Jan 2007 01:29:26 AM GMT)
This is so sad, what type of person are you, more to the point why are people discussing this, public places are public domain, that's the legal side of it.
From: Tom Begg (Photographer) (Wed 21 Feb 2007 10:50:31 PM GMT)
For clarification I should point out that under UK law, there are no restrictions on taking photographs in a public place or on photography of individuals, whether they are adults or minors. There is no right to privacy in a public place, although photographers are of course subject to the usual libel laws in the same way as any other citizen and should observe them. Equipment or film may not be confiscated, or images deleted by any person or officer unless a warrant for such action is issued. Any attempt without a warrant is considered assault under UK law.

Well, there you have it. A bit of a storm in a teacup, but not, I suppose, if taking photographs is your hobby or passion.
The most salient point to us Grumpy people is the facility the small-minded among us have developed for taking offence. They've followed the lead set by the PC Brigade, the Muslims and other religious extremists and the Child Protection industry, and now leap to take a stand whether it is really an issue or not.
So what if our anonymous snapper had taken a photograph of some little boys' legs sticking out of a rugby scrum? In what way could that conceivably damage or embarrass the boy? It couldn't, of course. But that's not the issue, is it? The point is that some people see the opportunity to appear to be right while putting someone else in the wrong.
This is bullying, plain and simple. I hope we all have the bottle to stand up against it.

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