Posts Tagged ‘Civil Liberties’

August Meeting: Digital Data Security

21st August, 2012

6pm, 28th August 2012, NUJ, 308 Gray’s Inn Road

Technology and widespread Internet access encourage instant freedom of communication and organisation on a level previously thought impossible. We’ve seen the impact of these new ways of organising across the Middle East last year and in many situations closer to home. But there’s a sinister, dangerous side to these technologies where companies and governments can access, use and block data to censor, spy on, follow or hurt those trying to distribute it.

We’ve seen the state simply turning off communications in Egypt, the Syrian military targeting and killing journalist Marie Colvin and her colleagues after locating them through their data transmissions, and journalists having data cards, tapes and computer equipment taken or destroyed in many other countries. This meeting will cover two aspects of data security; the technological side of encryption, backup, secure transmission & ensuring data file integrity as well as the legal side of the laws relating to the state accessing and retaining your information, police surveillance and monitoring activities, your Data Protection obligations and protection from seizure of journalistic material as evidence.

Speaking will be Anna Mazzola & Athalie Matthews from Bindmans LLP as well as a Q&A on technology with photographers Edward Hirst & Jules Mattsson.

Please do RSVP on facebook here and invite interested colleagues, our panel meetings are open to all.

Police officers cannot be above the law

11th October, 2010

Today’s Guardian reports that Sir Paul Stephenson, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, has “privately lobbied the home secretary to make it harder for people to take legal action against his force.”

Since 2006 I have sued the Metropolitan Police twice and it’s not been an easy process. It is time consuming, expensive and at times exhausting. In 2006 I was assaulted by Metropolitan Police officers when I was reporting on a protest in Parliament Square. I was taken to St Thomas’ hospital by ambulance and could not work for month. When the case settled two years later in 2008 my solicitor, Chez Cotton said:

This was an extremely unpleasant incident. Neither the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police or his officers has any legal power, moral responsibility or political responsibility to prevent or restrict what the media record. Mr Vallée is a well-respected photojournalist, lawfully present to photograph a political protest outside parliament, yet he was brutally prevented from doing so by the police. It is right that Mr Vallée has received an apology, an out of court settlement and that his legal costs will be met by the police.

In late 2008 video journalist Jason Parkinson and I were unlawfully stopped by Metropolitan Police officers from reporting on a protest outside the Greek Embassy. This case settled early this year and our solicitor, Chez Cotton once again, said:

The media play a critical role in recording civil unrest, political events, including protests and demonstrations and, where it arises, police wrong doing. It is of grave concern that an armed, diplomatic officer of the Metropolitan Police Force felt it was appropriate to call these journalists ‘scum’ and stop them from working and was happy to do so in full knowledge that he was being filmed. My clients were physically prevented from reporting on protest and political unrest of international importance.

These are just two of the many cases that journalists – with support from the NUJ – have taken on to defend media freedom. For many the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) route is a non-starter. Many photographers have found the IPCC to be far from independent and highly bureaucratic.

Bottom line, when the police act outside the law and attack human rights and media freedoms by physically attacking media workers then the police should be held to account for such actions. It seems that Sir Paul Stephenson has other ideas.

Is this about cost-cutting in the short term or is it a more calculated strategy to give his officers a freer hand when policing the public reaction to the political and economic shockwaves of the coalition governments austerity measures. And to remove those that will give that movement the oxygen of publicity?

Marc Vallée is a freelance photojournalist and the branch’s Legal Rep.

Photographers, Lawyers & Campaigners Rally for Change

14th April, 2010

Hostile Reconnaissance rally on Civil Liberties, Terror Laws & Press Freedom in Friends Meeting House. Image © Rude Cech 2010

Last night saw the fantastic Hostile Reconnaissance rally take place as 200 people filled the Large Meeting House of Friends Meeting House in Euston.

The rally heard from across the spectrum of journalists and photographers with accounts of journalists being harassed by police whilst working, being forced to erase images under the threat of arrest, detention on trumped up charges of ‘a breach of the peace’ and forced removal from covering protests using public order legislation.

The panel, chaired by London Photographers’ Branch chair Jess Hurd, included lawyer Chez Cotton, photojournalist and PHNAT organiser Marc Vallee, civil liberties columnist Henry Porter, photographer Pennie Quinton, NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear and law academic Keith Ewing.

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Hostile Reconnaissance

13th April, 2010

The London Photographers’ Branch is proud to announce a pre-election rally on Terror Laws, Civil Liberties & Press Freedom at 7pm on the 13th of April at Friends Meeting House in Euston.

The rally will be chaired by photographer Jess Hurd and we’ve got a top lineup of speakers who have dealt with the raft of terror laws that we face today:

Supporting the rally are the National Union of Journalists, NUJ London Central Branch, London Freelance Branch and the I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist! campaign group.

This is a free event, open to the public.

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Journalists, Lawyers & Campaigners rally to defend Civil Liberties & Press Freedom

9th April, 2010

Image available for use in conjunction with this story only. Do Not Crop. Image © Jonathan Warren/ 2010

Hostile Reconnaissance
Terror Laws, Civil Liberties & Press Freedom
13th of April, 7pm. Friends Meeting House, Euston.

For Immediate Release

With the General Election in full swing it is time to put civil liberties and press freedom centre stage in the election debates. Our right to work, our right to protest and dissent are increasingly under threat by the use and abuse of a raft of anti-terror legislation.

Professional and amateur photographers alike are being stopped routinely by police under Section 44 of the Terrorism act on grounds of conducting ‘Hostile Reconnaissance’ which has seen the rapid growth of the campaign group ‘I’m a Photographer Not a Terrorist!‘.

The use of these laws has been challenged and ruled unlawful by the European Court of Human Rights. The filmmaker and NUJ member who is fighting the government appeal to the ruling next week, Pennie Quinton, will be speaking at the rally.

Mike Mansfield QC said in support of the rally:

The Government’s legislation has less to do with terrorism than with control and the suppression of opposition and truth. It has been recognized for some time by the authorities that agents of the state have too often been caught on camera committing unlawful acts: (Orgreave, Poll Tax, Fairford, Brighton, G20, climate camp). The power to confiscate the camera is therefore an essential tool for an oppressive regime.

How such a draconian measure, drafted in such wide ranging terms, got past our so called political scrutineers in the Commons beggars belief. Either they were subverted by the ‘fear factor’, diverted by expenses claims or overcome by sleep. Mind you, it’s the same lot who voted for the War in Iraq in the first place and who later believed security service assurances that the UK had not colluded in rendition and torture. Such an unquestioning and unaccountable bunch of Labour and Tory MPs needs to be booted out on May 6 and this iniquitous provision repealed

The London Photographers’ Branch of the National Union of Journalists, is proud to be hosting a pre-election rally Hostile Reconnaissance – Terror Laws, Civil Liberties & Press Freedom at 7pm on the 13th of April at Friends Meeting House in Euston.

The rally will be chaired by photographer Jess Hurd and we’ve got a top lineup of speakers who have dealt with the raft of terror laws that we face today:

Opening the rally will be a film by Jason N Parkinson with highlights from the campaign.

Supporting the rally are the National Union of Journalists, NUJ London Central Branch and the I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist! campaign group.

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Jonathan Warren 077939 40759
Jess Hurd 07713 151765