Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Photo Terrorism

Thomas Hawk, longtime defender of photographers' rights, posted on Flickr about a [London] Metropolitan Police anti-terrorism advertising campaign. From their website:

The small text reads:
"Terrorists use surveillance to help plan attacks, taking photos and making notes about security measures like the locations of CCTV cameras. If you see someone doing that, we need to know. Let experienced officers decide what action to take."
Wow, I find this quite disturbing! The London police are asking the general public to begin viewing photographers with a suspicious eye! I really hope travel photography, which involves a lot of watching scenes and crowds and patiently waiting for the right light, doesn't get mistaken for loitering, casing, and planning of terror. If any bystander happens to think you look suspicious, perhaps because advertising campaigns like these put people on edge, should you expect the cops to come question you, detain you, perhaps search or seize your camera?

I know that an easy response to this is, "well, if you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about." To which I say, I'm already worried! I've been hassled by security guards and policemen for taking photographs in public, which is not a crime, even without such encouragement to report such behavior as suspicious. The last thing the craft of photography needs is propaganda suggesting it is deviant!