Cameras, police, and the Computer Misuse Act 1990.


Sdeve

Link Posted 20/10/2009 - 20:43
I was recently reviewing reported incidents where police officers have demanded that a photographer should erase images taken in a city centre (usually) under the Terrorism Act.

A digital camera would, IMO, fit the description of a computer. It operates by means of hardware and software (or firmware if you prefer) which are capable of modifcation and programming. It processes digital data. It has digital storage media.

In view of this, if an unlawful requirement to erase images on the media card was made by an officer, rather than the somewhat doubtful (in my mind) suggestion of criminal damage, would an offence under the Computer Misuse Act 1990 be more appropriate?

To further expand upon the digital camera as a computer.

You use a computer to input data. The data you input into the camera is a picture, and on some cameras, an audio narrative.

You use a computer to amend data. Most modern cameras will have some facility to amend the images taken.

You use a computer to store data. Cameras have a solid state hard drive, commonly referred to as a memory card.

You use a computer to output data, perhaps to a printer, to another computer, or to the internet. Most modern digital cameras will do this too.

Quality cameras can update their firmware, much the same way as computers can.

Computers have a screen, keys to input, and programs to run. So do modern cameras.

My digital SLR (K20D, among others), like most, has more bloody options, settings, switches, and other gubbins than some computers.

I reckon it's a goer.

johnriley

Link Posted 20/10/2009 - 20:55
Ah, but a camera is not a computer. You can't send e-mails and surf the Web on a camera. And you can't take photographs with a computer.

It's the same argument as "All elephants are pink. Nellie is an elephant, therefore Nellie is pink." Unfortunately for the argument, elephants aren't pink....
Best regards, John

Oggy

Link Posted 20/10/2009 - 21:13
I would beg to differ John.

From the OED -

Quote:
computer

noun an electronic device capable of storing and processing information in accordance with a predetermined set of instructions.

I have worked on many computers which definitely do not have internet access or emailing facility. I have also worked with computers which take pictures, or generate pictures from data.

TBH, I am surprised OED specify electronic, as I would have included mechanical calculators.

As for your Elephants, you'll be needing a Venn diagram.

Sdeve

Link Posted 20/10/2009 - 21:15
As part of a rather sad hobby, I collect old Apple Macs. The older ones will not send emails, or surf the web. On the other hand, I have a lap top computer that will quite happily take photographs. They are still computers. The term computer is not defined under the act. Modern cameras definitely compute.

An internet server will not be set up to send emails, only store and forward them. It is also unlikely to be set up to surf the net. It will have a very specific, and in some ways quite limited function, but is it still very much a computer.

johnriley

Link Posted 20/10/2009 - 21:27
People compute but are not generally thought of as computers...

I suspect we all know really what a computer is, even though it is true that many items have computing ability.

An abacus is a primitive form of computer and there are totally mechanical computers that have been built that are not electronic. I think the OED definition, as given anyway, is somewhat lacking.

It just shows again how difficult it is to truly definitively define something.
Best regards, John

Joe S

Link Posted 20/10/2009 - 22:04
Actually John, I believe the first "computers" where not machines but humans - mostly womens! These number crushers of flesh and blood where making calculations.

Edit: I mean, the term "computer" existed before we invented electronic devices to do the stuff.

Taken too liberally almost everything is a computer this day.
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Last Edited by Joe S on 20/10/2009 - 22:07

Oggy

Link Posted 20/10/2009 - 22:12
johnriley wrote:
People compute but are not generally thought of as computers...

You should meet some of the people I work with John

Anvh

Link Posted 20/10/2009 - 22:14
Well I'm still reading the whole Terrorism Act but already passed Preparation of terrorist acts but that only say imprisonment for life and nothing about deleting your photos or other sort of records.
I always wonder how a police officer finds you guilty of an act of terrorism only based on the fact that you make photos in a public place...

I'm looking at the right act right?
Stefan


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Anvh

Link Posted 20/10/2009 - 22:25
Just another thought.
If you do take photos to prepare a terrorist act and the police say you must delete the photo, isn't the police officer then not guilty of destroying evidence?
Stefan


K10D, K5
DA* 16-50, DA* 50-135, D-FA 100 Macro, DA 40 Ltd, DA 18-55
AF-540FGZ

George Lazarette

Link Posted 20/10/2009 - 22:34
It's typical of the lax drafting of so much legislation nowadays that the word "computer" is not even defined in the Act.

G
Keywords: Charming, polite, and generally agreeable.

MarkD

Link Posted 20/10/2009 - 22:37
Anvh wrote:
Just another thought.
If you do take photos to prepare a terrorist act and the police say you must delete the photo, isn't the police officer then not guilty of destroying evidence?

Yes he would be, and in fact it is illegal for them to ask you to delete an image or for them to delete any of your images.
In fact a judge recently clarified the situation by saying just that. If they suspect you of being a terrorist they would need that picture as evidence in the event of a prosecution and you would need it for your defence.
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Anvh

Link Posted 20/10/2009 - 22:40
Here is the part about that they can search you link
It also list equipment so if the police men is at least a commander he is rightful to view your photos in the situation stated in the act and he can detain that but nothing about destroying.
Stefan


K10D, K5
DA* 16-50, DA* 50-135, D-FA 100 Macro, DA 40 Ltd, DA 18-55
AF-540FGZ

Anvh

Link Posted 20/10/2009 - 22:52
George indeed computer is not defined in the act since it is not the computer itself that is interesting but the documents and transaction if made on it and that is defined.
Stefan


K10D, K5
DA* 16-50, DA* 50-135, D-FA 100 Macro, DA 40 Ltd, DA 18-55
AF-540FGZ

George Lazarette

Link Posted 20/10/2009 - 23:12
Stefan, the whole point of this thread is that there are differences of opinion as to what constitutes a computer.

G
Keywords: Charming, polite, and generally agreeable.

Sdeve

Link Posted 20/10/2009 - 23:27
George Lazarette wrote:
Stefan, the whole point of this thread is that there are differences of opinion as to what constitutes a computer.

G

Well, that shouldn't be too difficult. A computer is something that computes. Has to be. And my digital cameras, all of them, compute.
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