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    Financial Times (UK): Met under fire over picture database

    The Financial Times reports on a privacy controversy in Great Britain:

    Scotland Yard has been accused of “tarring the innocent” with Big Brother-style surveillance after it emerged that it holds at least 1,500 photographs of protesters on a computer database, many of whom have not been convicted of a crime.

    Lawyers and privacy experts questioned whether the image bank complied with UK privacy and data protection laws, despite police claims that they had culled more than 1,000 pictures in the past four months.

    Details of the police database, revealed by the Financial Times, come ahead of a protest this weekend at an Eon power station near Nottingham. The disclosure is likely to stoke criticism of police tactics at demonstrations such as London’s G20 protests in April. […]

    The Metropolitan Police said it maintained a database of about 1,500 pictures of people who had been convicted of crimes or who, according to police intelligence, were involved in organising or managing “the commission of criminal offences in a public order environment”.

    The pictures included photographs of people in custody and “overtly gathered intelligence images”, whose sources included police photographers who cover big demonstrations. […]

    Chris Huhne, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said the database was an example of the police “tarring the innocent and the guilty with the same brush”. Anna Mazzola, a lawyer at Hickman & Rose, said it was “far from clear” that the database complied with human rights and data protection laws.

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