Will the Metropolitan Police and other Police forces curtail their "Surveillance State" abuses of photographs and videos of innocent people, following this legal Judgment in the England and Wales Court of Appeal (Civil Division) ?
For an expert legal view, see the Panopticon blog
It is important to note that the result of the Court of Appeal's judgment is that the taking of the photographs did not per se constitute a unlawful interference with Mr Wood's right to privacy. Rather what was unlawful was the excessive retention of the photographs beyond a time when there was any reasonable basis for supposing that Mr Wood may engage in criminal conduct at the arms fair. On the question of whether this judgment sets a precedent on the question of whether the police can generally take photographs of ostensibly law-abiding citizens, it is worth noting Lord Collins' concluding comments: 'it is plain that the last word has yet to be said on the implications for civil liberties on the taking and retention of images in the modern surveillance society. This is not the case for the exploration of the wider, and very serious, human rights issues which arise when the State obtains and retains the images of persons who have committed no offence and are not suspected of having committed any offence' (paragraph 100).
Whether this Judgment actually leads to the destruction of the millions of images of innocent people, which are currently being stored and retained by Police Forward Intelligence Teams and on other "intelligence" databases and files etc., remains to be seen
Will the "in your face" photographic harassment by FIT police and civilian cameramen of political activists and journalists, especially at public demonstrations, (see examples, and the counter reaction which this provokes, at the FIT watch blog) and the whole infrastructure of CCTV snooping and monitoring come under proper, critical, value for money and privacy oriented scrutiny ?
Or will these matters be swept under the carpet again, through bureaucratic inertia, buck passing and fatuous excuses like "the Olympics" or the "security of crowded places" ?
Will this Government or the next one, actually repeal the stupid and repressive laws and policies which are used to harass innocent photographers in public places ?