back to article Photography: Yes, you have rights

Government claims to uphold the right of good upstanding Englishmen with cameras to snap whenever and wherever they please took a knock last week, with the publication of a letter from the Home Office setting out when these rights might be curtailed. Vernon Coaker, the Minister for Security, Counter-terrorism, Crime and Policing …

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give me ONE good reason why it is okay to take photos of everyone

For your sole benefit. To exploit people. To distress them.

To take a snap shot of one moment in time which would otherwise be forgotten, and do absolutely whatever you want with it?

Give me one good reason that is not selfish.

If the person objects, that ought to be enough. I do not go out in public for fun. I go out because I have to. I do not need to constantly watch my back, in a state of anxiety and conduct all activities as if I am under surveillance and those actions will come back to haunt me at a later time. You may not restrict my rights of freedom and spontaneity and living anonymously.

If photographers are going to be outright rude and invasive, taking opportunistic and exploitative pictures of people who do not consent to it, then what do you suggest happens besides laws against idiots like that who don't know how to ask? Or who don't agree to delete? (which would be quite rare) We all HAVE to go out in public. It is simply not a choice.

If I fall down a flight of stairs on the way to my mothers funeral you should not be able to put that on youtube for everyone to laugh at just because the flight of stairs I needed to go down happened to be in public and not inside my house.

People saying she shouldn't have got drunk or 'ill' in the first place obviously don't understand how extreme their ideas sound. (CCTV cameras do not necessarily count -although it is important- but this is different imo in that it is not broadcast to a wide audience and most importantly is deleted after a certain amount of time... HOWEVER) the most damaging thing about a surveillance society is NOT the act of having their photo taken but the fact that people have to modify their behaviour and give up freedoms due to the fear and anxiety of being constantly watched and any repercussions resulting from this constant prying into their everyday life. This is the exact same as what everyday photographers are doing and the exact same as what some of you are mindlessly suggesting. The public are turning the country into a surveillance society themselves. There is a camera in every second person's pocket these days. When a plane crashes or a bomb goes off everyone is wondering when the shaky phonecam footage of it will turn up. We are a nation of voyeurs. The amount of people spying on eachother is far higher than the incidence of government recording. (which, like I said, being no fan of it..it is apparently deleted and certainly not broadcast) Furthermore, most public photography used to be rare, or expected (ie: in tourist hotspots) or by a photographer with a big camera and a tri pod.

So, she shouldn't have got drunk huh? Shouldn't have had fun? Shouldn't have got ill? Shouldn't have went outside? So, we should all make sure we are looking and acting perfect and make conscious, planned, and only completely necessary movements outside our home, 24/7 for the rest of our lives, unless we are happy having our movements published. Possibly worldwide. To go out means we specifically agree to this happening?

I don't remember ever being given a form at my front door saying I was giving up my freedom and right to privacy and agreement for my photo to be taken and broadcast anywhere, just because I needed to go to the shops for some milk. For the VERY important and necessary reason of; someone wanting to get profit, fame or otherwise get something positive out of taking a photo that expoited me or my actions.

Want to take a photo of the building behind me? Tell me to move, wait until I pass, ask me or make sure I see you and don't give a damn. Simple, non invasive, and no risk that you will get punched in the face or your camera smashed. (that refers to the 'no photos for safety reasons', not my personal reaction to my photo being taken..)

I am not taking away ANYONE's right to take photos, just photos of ME without my consent.

(I don't see why you can't take photos of buildings though. It's not as if the only, or even preferred way to plan a bombing or break in is to take a photo of a building...)

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'My vegetarian sensibilities'?

Inaccurate but funny nonetheless.

Looking at the comments by Sean and AC it would seem we've had a minor invasion of Daily Mail readers.

Just so we're not talking about different things here I just want to check that I've got your points correct:

@Sean - Your obviously sarky comment implies that photography by amateurs/hobbyists/tourists etc has no value therefore anybody wanting to take photos must be weird/perverted/up to no good. You really believe that? Seriously?

@AC 03:48 - Your arguments are that people take photographs solely in order to distress others and for their own benefit. Second, that being in public is actually a private activity. Third, that governement surveillance is vastly outweighed by the huge number of snoopers with camera phones just randomly waiting for you to fall down stairs.

1) Partly correct. Of course photographers take pictures for their own benefit, if they're tourists or it's their hobby then why else would they do it? Who are these people that do it to distress and exploit others? Paprazzi? Scroats carrying out a happy slapping? The reasons that photographers take pictures are varied but I'm feeling pretty confident in saying that 'to distress and exploit' is such a small percentage of the total that it barely registers. Obviously you feel that all photography should be banned on that basis. While you're at it lets ban planes because some people use them to do bad things. Or maybe the internet. Or cars. Or sex.

2) Partly correct again - Take a photo of someone leaving a rehab clinic and although they are outside and ostensibly 'in public' that would be an invasion of their privacy. Take a photo of the milling crowds at the recent Christmas market - not really an invasion of privacy is it? The clue is in the word 'public' i.e. not private.

3) Wrong - If you walk from one side to the other of any town in this country I guarantee that the chance you will be caught on CCTV is massively higher than being caught randomly crossing the shot of some amateur photographer. And before you ask - yes I have worked in CCTV control rooms in the past.

As a final point, if a photographer specifically wants to take a picture of you then they should ask you, I agree, but if they're taking a picture of a PUBLIC area you happen to be in are you really saying that they should expect to be physically attacked or outlawed? That's possibly the daftest thing I've heard in while, bar Seans succintly expressed and well reasoned arguments of course.

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Photography is trainspotting

Trainspotters do not dictate the timetables. They attempt to leach some imagined "train prestige" by trying to be part of the whole train process. Whatever jollies they get from their uninteresting pastime they don't delude themselves as to their actual function or importance.

With photography It's probably something rooted in childhood. Who knows what kind of "Cheese" coats their minds, probably some childhood photographer left an excessive imprint. The confusion between event and observer in the mind allows the photographer to imagine themselves part of the process. By defining the photograph they control the event in some way.

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@Sean

haha haa haha hahahaha haa haaa hahaha haha [breathe]

hahah haah ahahaha [breathe] haha hah ha

haha haa

hahaa

ha

:¬I

What utter utter bollocks.

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Paris Hilton

@Sean

Whereas Internet trolling is such a noble endeavour?

You are sir, with respect, a knobber.

Paris because etc.

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@riff raff

Sop crying you halfwits, you're getting snot all over the internet. Your hysteria is, I suppose, proof of your mania but please don't mistake me for your dada. Also when you're serving people their coffee don't forget to wear your name tag at all times.

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@ AC 31st December 2008 03:48:

"I do not go out in public for fun. I go out because I have to."

Poor sod. You obviously really, really need to Get A Life.

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Thumb Down

I am certainly not eloquent but you need to pay more attention.

First of all, I didn't say that distressing people was the only reason people took photographs. Far from it. I was using it as an example of a type of photography and simply asking for a good reason in defence photos, specifically the ones that DO distress and exploit people. (Actually, ALL photographs taken of people are exploitative by their very nature. Not to say that it is sinister.. but it is definitely selfish and exploitative..) It's obvious that some people are distressed when they have their photo taken without permission or in certain circumstances. I wasn't implying that photographers do this intentionally but it does happen and is perfectly illustrated in the Drunk in Edinburgh case. I am looking for specific reasons as to why that photo is so important and why people (in your opinion?) have the right to take such photographs? What overwhelming need is there for the photo to be taken and a person to be upset and insulted over it?? No-one here seems to be denying the fact that the Edinburgh photographer was being rude, exploitative and likely to upset the girl/ her boyfriend. Which he did. Just because you find the story funny/pathetic, like seeing photos of drunk ill people, or disapprove of her behaviour doesn't mean she deserves to be exploited, humiliated and her actions used for someone else's fame, profit, or work study. Are those things not selfish?

I did NOT say there was a slim chance of being caught on CCTV, I was barely mentioning it at all. The reason I brought CCTV up is simply because I think it's important to realise the differences. It's unfair to compare the 2 types of "photography" since the whole concern over candid photos is that the image is out of the subject's control and they have no idea what it will be used for, who took it, where it will be published etc. Clearly there are rules about CCTV use, specifically how long it is retained and we all know it is not published or broadcast to a big audience (except rarely in the case of crimes.). You are also usually aware of the camera.. What part of that do you not understand?? Stop twisting and actually making things up which are not there, in order to make a weird response which you're clearly proud of, arguing ridiculous things that I didn't even say. (Also, do not even try to dispute the fact that there are more cameras and camera phones in the country than CCTV cameras. A quick google throws out numbers of 2 to 4 million cctv cameras in the uk and approx 40 million mobile phone owners. Which would mean vodaphone alone has over twice as many phone users as there are cctv cameras. It's safe to say at least half and nearly all of these phones will have camera /video capability. Then you add in the amount of actual digital cameras and camcorders..)

Your cliched DailyMail 'insult' distracts no-one. It does not automatically get you points. It's like calling someone a Nazi because you've ran out of ideas and know the word alone packs a punch. It's interesting that you not only responded to things I did not write, but picked out only the weakest points to respond to and conveniently ignored everything else. Some of which you must agree is reasonable? I asked quite a few questions. Do you mind answering them? Do you agree or disagree that taking a photo of someone is a selfish thing to do? If it's not, then what is the reason/purpose? Taking a photo of the drunk girl in Edinburgh who objected was selfish; yes or no?

I did not say being in public was a private activity. I said very CLEARLY that being in public was not an option, but necessary, and as such it is necessary to do some private things in public. Again, this seems like a pretty obvious thing to grasp. Please do not re-word and distort my sentences to mean the opposite. THAT is akin to the Daily Mail crowd.

"Obviously you feel that all photography should be banned"

Not at all. ?? If you go back and read my post I say nothing of the sort. In fact I make it clear that I would be okay with photos in most circumstances. I even said "just ask me for a photo, tell me to move/wait until I move/ make it obvious you're about to snap me" (OR if it's in a tourist hotspot this is not necessary) A lot of photographers do this already. What's wrong with simply complying if the person you photographed wants their photo deleted? After all, it is a photo of THEM. What makes you think you have the right to photograph people and keep it even after they have shown distress and requested it's deletion?

What part of the above leads you to think I want all photography banned?? You have written a complete lie and should be ashamed of your low blows. Courteous photography is basically fine with me but it's obviously not happening and a person should clearly have the right to a photo/video of themselves. Specifically in certain circumstances. Specifically these days when cameras so prevalent. How can you honestly claim to own something which is essentially the actions or a piece of someone's life that you don't know? If you are not a rude, selfish photographer who preys upon people then you shouldn't be offended by what I'm saying. It's completely reasonable. The law needs to be changed NOT to outlaw photos but to give people more rights to their OWN photo and to not be exploited in this way.

" While you're at it lets ban planes because some people use them to do bad things. Or maybe the internet. Or cars. Or sex."

Lame (and not even relevant since I didn't say to ban it. Not to mention the comparison is ridiculously bad since photography is not really necessary and transport is essential.)

*2) Can you explain why being in public in one place has certain rights but being in public somewhere else has none and is "more" public? You have contradicted yourself in a major way, and I dislike your sneaky use of "crowd photos", which implies people are not easily recognisable, which is obviously not the kind of photos I am/people are objecting to.

"if they're taking a picture of a PUBLIC area you happen to be in are you really saying that they should expect to be physically attacked or outlawed?"

Yes they should expect it - since it might happen. I didn't say they deserved it or that I would do it.

"That's possibly the daftest thing I've heard in while"

Weird. You're in for some surprises then.

Why have you ignored almost all of what I said? I am trying to have a discussion. You are trying to argue. I really don't understand. I was clear on many things, and all you've done is insult me and jump to ridiculous conclusions

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Flame

A few more points

for the hard of thinking:

Shaun, Do you actually believe what you are saying, or are you just trolling for effect.

AC 20:32 Loser length: Fail

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cctv

I agree, CCTV serves a much more important goal, where would we be without almost constant repeats of 'britains funniest CCTV clips'....

Muppet.

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@ John Ozimek

Read my comment again as you seem to be confused. I did not say your article was confusing English and Scottish law, merely that commenting on both in the same article would confuse the less intelligent. Case proven.

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Unhappy

Aggressive use of a camera

Now I have heard everything!!

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Alien

re: Calm down...

Aye, the plod are just human when it comes to fuckups but they are infallible paragons of right and honour when it comes to giving them powers.

I

Don't

Buy

It

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Alien

re: Don't be fooled

And if the tories are just as bad, why does that mean we should keep the current crop of arseholes in power?

If they are as bad, then at least they start off on the back foot and we kick THEM out in four years.

But you want us to accept evil because all our options could be evil.

No.

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@I am certainly not eloquent

You're not particularly intelligent either.

It's quite depressing to be reminded that there are still people like you around, spouting such arrant drivel.

The irony is that you are supporting the very type of restrictions which will make you even more delusionally paranoid than you already are.

Do us all a favour and make an appointment with a psychiatrist soon.

Re : Sean - please people, don't feed the troll.

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Thatcher

To any fools who think the Tories would be "better" than labour get a grip on yourself and snap out of it. Cameron and his team of right wing fascists will have you all tagged and they'll privatise everything to the benefit of a few already rich types. They'll do what Bush just did to the US economy. Every now and again a Boris Johnson is OK for comic relief but a whole bunch of them being in charge of stuff is an horrible joke.

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Alien

@ Sean

The only argument I can think of as to why you are so anti-photography is that as a baby you fell out of the cradle and hit every branch of the ugly tree on the way down.

Photography as a hobby or as a profession can serve the public. I personally do photography as a hobby, it's a form of artistic expression. Personally I prefer photos of nature, but I have done some portraiture. Many others through the ages have also done photography as a hobby whether they realise it or not, all those holiday snaps and family photos.

If you discount photography as a profession, you also discount the works of David Bailey, or even the truly horrifying photographs of Nick Ut who showed to the world the horrors of the vietnam war. Photography has been used to hold entire governments to account. Who cannot remember the famous photo of the sole protestor standing against a chinese tank in Tianamen Square?

In short, you're talking out of your arse.

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It's All

A bit ironic considering the prevalence of CCTV.

There's a nice story on SlashDot today about a man being arrested at a train station for taking pictures for a photography competition organised by the very same rail company:

http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/01/04/1846229

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@Jamie Kitson

You neglected to mention said story was about Penn Station in New York and Amtrak police officers. Hardly relevant to this discussion.

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Stop

@Tonto

You forgot that it is about photography being banned not because it is against the law but because they ARE the law.

Very relevant to this discussion.

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@ Mark

You forgot the first line of the original article on which we are commenting:

>Government claims to uphold the right of good upstanding Englishmen with cameras to snap whenever and wherever they please took a knock last week, with the publication of a letter from the Home Office setting out when these rights might be curtailed.<

i do not know the nationality of said miscreant at the raiway station in New York but I fail to see the relevance to this thread, as stated to Mr Kitson earlier.

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Coat

@ Tonto

Although the main article is about curtailment of freedoms within the UK and the Slashdot article is regarding a story in New York it is still relevant. What we're seeing in the UK is a reflection of what has already happened in the USA. Since 2001 we've seen a steady erosion of freedoms in almost every Western democracy.

My own personal view is that the right to photograph the police should be a given, who else will hold them to account if not the public? It's already been proven that the police themselves cannot be trusted with the job and the government has made it clear that if they're involved whatever decision will be predetermined to show the government in a favourable light.

Oh hang on, I hear some loud banging at the front door....

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@Tonto again

"i do not know the nationality of said miscreant at the raiway station in New York but I fail to see the relevance to this thread, as stated to Mr Kitson earlier."

I fail to see what the nationality of said miscreant has to do with the police stopping someone taking photos in a public area and arresting them not for any law that they broke but just because they were taking photographs.

However, both the Amtrak and this comment were both about how the police are arresting people for taking photos in a public area and arresting them not for any law that was broken but just because they were taking photos.

Both very similar, just geographically distant from each other. Nationality has nothing to do with it.

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@ Alien8n and Mark

I am typing this slowly so that you can understand.

The article by John Ozimek relates to English and Scottish law and how the use of a camera in certain locations in England, Wales and Scotland (and probably Northern Ireland) could attract unwanted attention by the police.

Now my earliest entry was regarding something which happened in Australia and then Amtrak police in America. Neither of these incidents occurred within the U.K. so by bringing them to this forum and 'tut-tutting' about them is completely irrelevant.

Mark if you read my comment it quotes Mr Ozimek's article relating to 'upstanding Englishmen', therefore an item regarding an incident in an American railway station could only have relevance here if it involved an upstanding English miscreant. That is what you failed to see as you put it!

By people posting 'look at this' and neglecting to point out that 'it' happened abroad stir things up unnecessarily. Incidents in Australia and America cannot be compared with the hypothetical use of counter terrorist legislation or even common law breach of the peace in the U.K. (Hypothetical = Mr Ozimek's use of the words may and might in his article).

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