WTF: British Police Tweet Image of Comedian, Ask Followers to ID Him for a Larf

A stunning invasion of privacy that is chilling - and not against the law as the coppers define it.


Via the Twitter feed of former Reasoner Matt Feeney (now at Cato) comes this story of Big Brother churlishness from across the pond.

England is of course known as the closed-circuit television capital of the world, but the bobbies there tweeted a helicopter-surveillance-cam pic of popular comedian Michael McIntyre and then asked, "Whilst on tasking [sic] in central London this morning we spotted a certain energetic funny man … Can you guess who?"

WTF? Can you imagine the NYPD tracking Gilbert Gottfried or Colin Quinn or Amy Schumer and then har-har joke-tweeting about it? As The Guardian reports, pols of all parties were properly appalled. Here's a sample:

Police…regularly fly planes over London that are fitted with surveillance equipment capable of intercepting phone calls and listening in on conversations, according to reports.

Gerard Batten, a Ukip MEP for London, condemned the branch for posting the photo, saying: "The photograph of Michael McIntyre by a police helicopter and its publishing online is a gross misuse of police power.

"It isn't some private citizen taking a snap of a passing celebrity, this is the police, abusing their authority.

"The implications for civil liberties raised by this are appalling to consider. This isn't Hollywood, this is real life."

The Metropolitan Police took down the tweet but did state that it wasn't breaking any laws by doing what it had done. To which London mayor Boris Johnson replied:

In principal it must be wrong for the Met to be taking photographs of ordinary passers by in the street and then tweeting them out for any reason at all whether you're Michael McIntyre or anyone else.

Are there similar cases of U.S. folks being abused in similar fashion?

Follow-up: After watching this interminable bit by McIntyre, does anyone wish the cops had not simply photographed him but arrested him too?

NEXT: Snowden Documentary Director Sues to Find Out How She Ended Up on Watchlists

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. So, the government is mad the cops showed just how invasive their spying is? Call me crazy, but I think the fundamental issue is that they are flying over the city with surveillance equipment in the first place.

  2. Cloying, unfunny, over-polished comedy routine.

    1. ^^THIS^^

      It’s like he’s a try-hard, unfunny, eddy izzard.

  3. You know who else rained down on the people of England from above?

    1. The Raven King?

  4. Everyone always abuses whatever power they are at liberty to abuse. Especially dickheads with more power than average people, like cops. Whatever abuses come to light are certainly the tip of the iceberg. And, people really don’t like when their existing privilege to abuse power is challenged.

    1. You are correct. Which is why it’s so hard to understand why you want to give these same people so much more power?

      1. I don’t. I’m a fan of strong checks and balances, unlike libertarians who think people will all treat each other kindly if they’re just freed of the yoke of law and order.

    2. Yeah, that’s basically the problem with government (or uncompetitive markets in essential goods and services, since I’m sure you would go there). Power without accountability.

      Democracy isn’t capable of providing that accountability — the government is not the people, nor are their effective mechanisms to make it care about the will of the people. The more leverage it gets over people, the more power transitions to the permanent bureaucracies and away from Congress and the White House, the less it has to give a shit about what the people want.

      Only massive structural change will provide accountability. The other option is to remove power.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.