Surveillance

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.

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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?