First is the case of the guy who posted a joke about an airport on Twitter.
He was arrested on suspicion of communicating a bomb hoax and later charged with sending, by means of a public electronic communications network, a message that was grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character.
Yesterday, the court heard that the message read: “Crap! Robin Hood Airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!”
Adjourning the case, District Judge Jonathan Bennett told Chambers that all sentencing options, including custody, were open. He was granted unconditional bail to appear before the same court for sentencing on 12 March.
After his arrest, Chambers was suspended from work pending an internal investigation. Detectives also confiscated his iPhone, laptop and home computer.
Take a careful look at the language of the statute in the first paragraph quoted above – which cases in US First Amendment law does this fall under? And is there any chance that this conviction would be upheld here?
In another set of incidents, British authorities have stepped up their harassment of photographers in public places (despite the law authorizing such harassment having been struck down by the ECHR). And they appear to be getting ready to seriously limit, if not eliminate, professional photography (which I think would include artists and documentarians) in public places. Photos in public places will be barred if any person in the photograph objects to being photographed.
Not content with abrogating photographers’ copyright, another part of Government is now going some way to ban photography altogether in public places, for data protection reasons. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) proposed new code for personal information online has “commonsense” new rules that in effect will prohibit photography in public places where anyone who’s in the photograph might be unhappy about being photographed. A photo, taken in public, is now deemed private data, y’see.
CCTV, full body scans at airports, no problem, but if an ordinary person takes a photo, this Kafkasesque notion of privacy in public will apply. Unless it’s on film. You’d probably be OK taking photos of someone committing a criminal offence too, as ICO thinks this shouldn’t be private information.
Mindful of the damage this would do to tourism and how much it would piss off Joe Public to be told he can’t use his cameraphone in the street to make humiliating snaps of his drunk mates for Facebook (and quite possibly subsequent orphan use by Rupert Murdoch), ICO have decided that this lunacy shall only apply to pro photographers, a small enough constituency to castrate with impunity.
And, according to the same article, it appears as though Rupert Murdoch will be stealing your flickr stream whenever he wants to.
Anyway, I’m glad that I took my trip to England before all this took effect, or else I might not have been able to share this radically invasive, offensive, dangerous photograph with you all.