Italian student Simona Bonomo has become the latest tourist to be nabbed in England for taking pictures of historic or “iconic” landmarks. Police community support officers (PCSOs) stopped Bonomo under anti-terrorism after she took pictures of buildings and arrested her under anti-terrorism laws. She was held in a jail cell and later released after paying a fine.
Bonomo, 32, is an art student at London Metropolitan University at London Metropolitan University and recorded her encounter with police. When confronted, she explained that she was filming “just for fun”. The officer replied: “You like looking at those buildings do you? You’re basically filming for fun? I don’t believe you.” The officer demanded to look at the pictures, which Bonomo refused to allow. He then responded “I can have a look if I want to, if I think it may be linked to terrorism. This is an iconic site.”
The encounter highlights the problem with the law with ironic iconic sites. Tourists are most likely to photograph “iconic sites.” However in doing so, police treat it as evidence that they are possibly terrorists and take away the cameras. If you thought that the solution is to only photograph non-historic sites like Fish and Chips restaurants, think again (here).
These laws are reminiscent of TSA confiscating tweezers and nail clippers for years as a terrorist threat on airplanes. Terrorists could just as easily use GoogleEarth to map out target areas.
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