>We will not be intimidated – Mass resistance to new offence of publishing information about police officers

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>The new Counter Terrorism Bill, currently in The Lords, contains an amendment to Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000. This amendment will make it an offence, punishable by up to ten years imprisonment, to publish or elicit information about any police constable “of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”.

Furthermore, Schedule 7 of the Bill applies this amendment to internet service providers and web hosting services. This means they will have a legal duty to remove all sites perceived to fall under this offence, and has provisions for use at home and abroad.

It is unclear what information will be classed as “useful” to terrorists, but due to this ambiguous wording, the Bill has implications for bloggers, journalists, photographers, activists and anyone who values freedom of speech.

This is a call from Fitwatch for a mass publishing of information on police officers on the day this Bill receives its Royal Assent. The date will be published as soon as we have it, but it is likely to be early 2009.

Fitwatch are one of the groups who could be targeted by this new legislation. Fitwatch, started eight months ago by activists, resists and opposes the use of Forward Intelligence Teams (FIT) on demonstrations. FIT are police officers who photograph, follow, and generally intimidate protesters. They bring, in the words of Jacqui Smith, “harassment style policing” to protests.

As part of this opposition, we run a blog – http://www.fitwatch.blogspot.com/ – where we share information about these officers. We feel this blog could be under threat from this new legislation.

Whilst it is obvious from our blog that we do not like these officers, we are not terrorists.

Neither are:

  • people filming, and uploading to Youtube, footage of police officers acting illegally.
  • bloggers writing about being randomly stopped and searched.
  • journalists publishing details of corrupt or racist cops.
  • photographers publishing photographs of police on protests.

The list goes on, but all are under threat.

This legislation not only attempts to stifle our ability to hold the police force to account for their actions, but also attacks the principles of open publishing on the internet. It must be resisted.

Join the mass action and oppose this ludicrous law.

This action can be taken by anyone, anywhere:

  • Get hold of a piece of information about a police officer, or a photo or video. If you are stuck, feel free to use anything from our blog!
  • Publish this on Flickr, Youtube, your blog, website, myspace/facebook, whereever you want.
  • Send us a link, and we’ll publish a list on our blog.
  • Please circulate and publish this call as widely as possible, and join this act of cyber resistance.

ps – this bill also applies to intelligence officers. If anyone does have any photographs or information on MI5 officers they wish to publish, we would not seek to discourage them in any way, shape or form, but please do send us a link!!!

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