Police protection or citizen censorship? Spain to ban photos and videos of cops
by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
Spain’s government is drafting a law that bans the photographing and filming of members of the police. The Interior Ministry assures they are not cracking down on freedom of expression, but protecting the lives of law enforcement officers.
The draft legislation follows waves of protests throughout the country against uncompromising austerity cuts to public healthcare and education.
The new Citizen Safety Law will prohibit “the capture, reproduction and editing of images, sounds or information of members of the security or armed forces in the line of duty,” said the director general of the police, Ignacio Cosido. He added that this new bill seeks to “find a balance between the protection of citizens’ rights and those of security forces.”
The dissemination of images and videos over social networks like Facebook will also be punishable under the legislation.
Despite the fact that the new law will cover all images that could pose a risk to the physical safety officers or impede them from executing their duty, the Interior Ministry maintains it will not encroach on freedom of expression.
“We are trying to avoid images of police being uploaded onto social networks with threats to them and their families,” underlined Cosido.
Violation of freedom of expression?
I have rarely heard as much garbage to defend a law that will make it illegal to photograph and film police abuse, for instance, for that is what it is all about.
But legislation like this is nothing new. The same has been pushed through, without any real opposition, in the British parliament making it now illegal to take photos of videos of any police officers, whether in action or just standing about, and this law could be applied against anyone, including journalists. So far it is being rarely used, however.
It, however, can be used and is part of anti-terrorist legislation, thus making any arrest under this law and arrest under anti-terrorist legislation which could get someone jailed indefinitely without trial.
In the UK it is also, under anti-terrorist legislation, illegal to take pictures and/or videos of a number of locations; locations such as government buildings, metro stations, rail stations, police stations, etc. and can lead to arrest and confiscation of camera and more.
Apparently there are moves afoot to introduce the same kind of laws making the photographing and filming of police and security forces in action in other EU countries and this has nothing to do with protecting the cops.
If the cops play by the rules then they have nothing to fear but they don't play by the rules as can be seen in so many actions in the UK, the USA, and elsewhere.
In the USA the same moves are also considered and in some areas are already being introduced and in some the are already in existence.
What we are seeing here is the curtailing of the freedoms of the people and the media to record and report (with photographic evidence) the excesses of individual police officers and teams of law enforcement personnel.