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Illegal To Take a Photo In a Shopping Center? 544

New submitter Kyrall writes "A man was questioned by security guards and then police after taking a photo of his own child in a UK shopping center. The center apparently has a 'no photography' policy 'to protect the privacy of staff and shoppers and to have a legitimate opportunity to challenge suspicious behavior.' He was told by a security guard that taking a photo was illegal. He also said that a police officer claimed, 'he was within in his rights to confiscate the mobile phone on which the photos were taken.'"
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Illegal To Take a Photo In a Shopping Center?

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  • by paulsnx2 ( 453081 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2011 @12:31AM (#37675242)
    What about writing in your journal?

    How about making a phone call? After all, someone could hear what is going on in the background.

    How about closed circuit T.V.? The U.K is famous for having cameras everywhere. Isn't that a privacy issue?

    How much of our ability to record the events in our lives is illegal under this logic, and subject to confiscation?

    What if we just remember what we had for lunch? That could be terrible. Can we tweet about what we see? Is it okay to post a description of who you see at the mall?
  • by telekon ( 185072 ) <canweriotnow@gmail.OPENBSDcom minus bsd> on Tuesday October 11, 2011 @12:32AM (#37675246) Homepage Journal

    It's not endemic to the UK or Europe. I was told the same thing trying to take a picture in a Target parking lot outside of Baltimore, MD. I didn't think much of it at the time, but what if my car had been damaged and I needed to document it for insurance purposes?

    Furthermore, (and this might be a UK/US discrepancy) IANAL but I was pretty sure all a strip mall security guard could do was ask you to leave the premises. Confiscating private property seems like a torts lawyers dream, IMHO. All you would have to do is refuse to surrender your camera/phone and taunt the minimum wage rent-a-cop until he slugs you, and never have to work again.

    Actually, I think I might spend more time photographing strip malls... working sucks...

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2011 @12:41AM (#37675316)

    This, of course, has nothing whatsoever to do with the case in the United Kingdom.

    Well, it does have one thing in common - I doubt a Canadian (or American) security guard has been given any better (read: significant) training in what is or isn't legal behavior, or what they legally can or cannot do when dealing with a "suspect".

    In America we had Homeland Security people telling photographers, post 9/11 (obviously), they couldn't take photos of bridges because they might be used for terrorism. The statement didn't have any basis in law... it seems they were just winging it. Fortunately some photographers pushed back, and now people know a bit more about their rights when it comes to photography in public spaces.

    If this UK dad pushes back hard enough, maybe UK security guards (or, more likely, their bosses) will end up a touch better informed regarding what sorts of restrictions can and cannot be placed upon behavior in shopping malls.

  • Re:In Soviet Russia (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Pooua ( 265915 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2011 @01:00AM (#37675446) Homepage

    Funny, but the real irony is, how many pictures do you supposed the British government got of this man when he walked into this establishment?

  • by seandiggity ( 992657 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2011 @02:06AM (#37675958) Homepage
    In a mall in the U.S., I was taking a picture of a "Wet Floor" sign I found funny because the stickman on it looked like he was falling the same way I did when I broke my leg. I was still on crutches recovering from that injury, and some guy from a cell phone vendor booth had the nerve to tell me that I couldn't take pictures in the mall because "believe it or not it's private property". But he didn't try to take my phone, and I just crutched away.

    About a month later, my girlfriend was harrassed in a Canadian sandwich shop for taking pictures of wall art she thought was cute. An employee had the audacity to harrass her (a paying customer, no less), block the exit, and intimidate her into deleting the photos from her phone in front of him. He spouted some nonsense about "corporate espionage". After some very loud complaints by me, the owner of the sandwich chain apologized profusely, disciplined the employee (I think he's actually gone now), and mailed us a gift certificate.

    So, needless to say I've done some reading up on this...from what I can tell, the law does actually seem to be on the side of the fascists because civil liberties have eroded so badly. It's difficult to tell if the situation is worse in the U.S. or Canada, but in both countries there are a number of ways in which you can be legally harrassed for taking photos inside a place of business. However, I don't believe anyone but an actual policeman, federal agent, etc. (not a rent-a-cop or employee) can legally confiscate your property (your phone) or look through it.

    This "OMG no photos" mindset is not only the product of police-state paranoia, it's fed by the ideologues of intellectual property. The irony is that businesses should be embracing the free advertising...many of these photos will end up on the Web in some form, likely mentioning the location, maybe even tagged with that info and the name of the store, products, and other data-mining fodder. Not to mention the fact that cellphone cameras are an everyday reality now, and bothering anyone who uses them in a store makes for horrible PR and customer service in a very precarious sales economy.
  • by muttoj ( 572791 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2011 @03:35AM (#37676430)
    The Dutch government started a new campaign yesterday asking everybody to take pictures in shoppingmalls when ordinary people spot shoplifters, violent behaviour, etc. With this campaign they try to increase the chance of getting the criminals behind bars. When people take pictures of people doing illegal stuff then the court have more evidence to convict the criminals.
  • by Sqr(twg) ( 2126054 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2011 @05:22AM (#37676872)

    Are you sure that they can 'include an agreement to surrender all " ... equipment; film; and other media to Capital Shopping Centres Group PLC or its authorised agents" on breaching said condition.' ?

    If so - can I set up a store in the U.K. and put a sign up at the entrance saying "by entering, you agree to pay me a thousand pounds" and then confiscate the money in the wallets of all those who are stupid enough pass through a door without reading the fine print?

    I know that in Sweden, you can simply claim that I did not see the sign, and so (with the exception of military installations) you are free to take photographs until somebody points out to you that it is forbidden. []

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.