Bit of a dry topic, but it's one that comes up a fair bit when you have a child.
At my daughter's school, there is, as far as I know, no draconian policy banning photographs at school plays and sports days. On these occasions there are usually many camera-toting parents and relatives present. In fact, the staff regularly take photographs of the children doing the cool things that the under-tens get to do all day while the rest of us are out working, and sometimes offer copies of them to parents. This makes me and my daughter the lucky ones, because as I have found out from discussions with other parents, most schools these days have a blanket ban on all cameras within school property.
And it doesn't stop there. I've heard of various friends over the last few years being stopped and questioned by police or other public officials (wardens at events, PCSOs etc) just because they were carrying a camera. We're all so paranoid because of this climate of suspicion: one of my friends once took pictures of people celebrating the Chinese New Year and put them online, only to be quizzed by his friends as to the wisdom of doing so - what if the parents of the children who are featured in the pictures find them and ascribe sinister motives to him?
I believe the justification is some combination of fear of paedophiles (oh please! my daughter doesn't go out looking sexualised, I like it when strangers comment on how sweet she is, and it saddens me that due to media hysteria parents have become so hyperprotective) and fear of terrorists. Call me crazy, but if I was a terrorist or some other criminal kook I wouldn't be wandering about in full view with a shiny camera, I'd be using some kind of surreptitious filming.
Now, I was sure I remembered something about British law stating that you do not own your own image, in contrast to the USA where one regularly sees faces blanked out of photographs and video shot in public, because their permission hasn't been sought. Actually I must make a geeky admission: I know this because there's a scene in one of the Star Trek movies where Chekhov is asking passers-by the way to a place and I was told the producers had to track down every one of those impromptu 'extras' and ask them for their permission to be used in the final cut. Anyway...
I was getting a little concerned about this, because I have found myself censoring where I do and don't take photos, angling my camera away from other people's children despite the fact that all I am is a mum who wants a record for her daughter's memories. I keep a moblog for occasional things I see while I have my phone to hand. I publish albums on Facebook of snaps I have taken at Alex's birthday celebrations or similar. And I don't want to think I'm breaking the law by doing these innocent things. To think of the bigger picture - I don't want this country to become one where we are so cowed and restricted in our everyday activities. Our civil freedom is going backwards!
I found after a little searching that the reliable El Reg has covered the topic admirably, and quite recently too. I was right! We *are* allowed to take photographs of innocent things happening in public places! Now to print off that page and carry it with me at all times to back me up, just in case someone decides to try to pressure me into giving up my humble point-and-click box. I suggest any of my friends who are more serious photographers take note of the pointers there, too, and continue to assert their rights, rather than unwittingly lose them by not standing up to the people who assume they don't exist.
Happy snapping, everyone!