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New terrorism laws impact amateur photographers

 19th Feb 2009

The government introduced new laws on 16 February, under the Counter Terrorism Act, that may prevent people from taking photographs freely.

Section 76 of the Act means that an amateur photographer, taking a picture of a police officer could now be arrested. The legislation rules against "eliciting, publishing or communicating information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism". This means that taking photos of members of the armed forces, police or intelligence officials could be illegal.

In protest at the new laws, the National Union of Journalists created a flash mob of photographers outside Scotland Yard for a ‘mass picture-taking session.’ The Union says the ability to take photographs in public needs to be protected as it is a ‘precious freedom.’

There is still much confusion about what the law will mean for the average picture-taker. The police claim that the Act could result in people taking pictures in what are deemed ‘suspicious circumstances’ being asked to explain themselves.

Many professional photographers claim they are unwilling to observe the new law and are willing to go to court to fight for their rights.