"Cover Up!" to Defend Your Privacy
We need your help us raise £2500 to produce 1000 face coverings, at least 500 of which we plan to give out on the streets at a future protest.
Everyone who donates at least £5 will also receive one of the remaining 500 Cover-Up! masks in the post.
With the police granted extraordinary discretion by the courts to obtain and retain personal information of protesters, the time has come to EVERYONE taking part in a protest to cover-up their faces.
Wearing a face covering during a protest is entirely legal. Only in limited circumstances can the police require you to remove a mask or scarf and seize it.
During arguments over a 2013 appeal against the recording of information about people attending public protests, even London’s police chief admitted it is the most effective way to avoid police photographers and overt intelligence gathering by his officers. His legal counsel said:
"The subject has chosen to attend the protest. He or she is under no obligation to facilitate the collection of… information and can usually, for example, shield or cover his or her face to avoid a photograph being taken…"
Since then, in March 2015 the UK Supreme Court granted what amounts to judicial approval for the mass surveillance of UK protest movements . From now on, every protester should considering taking the Met’s advice and covering up their face to avoid unwarranted police surveillance.
Of course, we shouldn’t need to resort to such drastic measures: surely we have a right to assembly and to freedom of expression?
Unfortunately, Supreme Court judges decided that photographing people taking part in a rally or demonstration is only a ‘minor’ invasion of their privacy and, because it is carried out by ‘overt activities in public places’, it is justified to prevent and detect crime. It’s a ruling that opens the door to the police treating anyone exercising their rights to protest as a suspect.
Some have argued that when only a minority are wearing face coverings, it can distance them from other protesters and isolate them from the wider public.
We agree: that is why we want to see a cultural shift so that wearing a mask or bandanna to protect protesters' privacy becomes normal and commonplace on every protest and demonstration, rather than a decision taken by only a few.
This kind of change in attitudes towards covering up will take time but we want to make a start and highlight how extreme and authoritarian the Supreme Court's ruling is. We plan to do so by
- producing 500 face coverings to distribute and 500 more to give to donors
- calling for a surprise ‘Privacy Bloc’ for a forthcoming demonstration in London
To make this happen, we need your help.
We are crowd-funding to raise £2500 to produce 1000 face coverings printed with the design above.
Everyone who donates at least £5 will receive one Cover-Up! mask in the post and will allow us to distribute another on the streets.
The more we raise, the more we can produce, so please give more if you can.
We will let everyone know more about Netpol’s future ‘privacy bloc’ action when our appeal for funds is successful.
WHEN MAKING A DONATION, PLEASE REMEMBER TO TICK THE 'HIDE' BOX UNDER YOUR NAME ON THE PAYMENT PAGE.
Before June's anti-austerity demonstration, the Mail on Sunday published an nasty attack article that it tried to drag Netpol into. The paper also stole an image from our website - so we invoiced them.
Under the threat of legal action, Viscount Rothermere's Sunday tabloid backed down and has therefore contributed £330 to the campaign. You can read more at https://netpol.org/2015/07/29/mail-on-sunday-funding/
We look at mainstreaming the idea of wearing a face mask, plus highlight some of the great photos from Saturday's demonstration in London.
Please come along if you can: it's an important opportunity to make the case for protest anonymity, especially after the tawdry article in yesterday's Mail on Sunday. Look out for the banner on the day!
Today, we are announcing that our planned 'Privacy Bloc' will join the People's Assembly demonstration in London on Saturday 20 June, meeting at 11.30am (see https://netpol.org/2015/05/27/privacy-bloc-20-june/).
You can sign up and invite others on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/998802060130504/
We still need to reach our target - by Friday 12 June - to ensure the Privacy Bloc is a success, so please contact friends and encourage them to contribute.
You can find a model email and other resources at https://netpol.org/campaigns/privacy-bloc/
You can almost certainly guarantee that the Government will alter the laws and policies regarding face coverings in public order situations this year or next making it illegal to wear face coverings in public. The exception being unless it is part of a national/religious dress. ... Box clever. Face paints, sunglasses, wigs.... looks less intimidating too sonthe press cant manipulate the images to portray protesters as thugs etc.
I was initially supportive of this, and put money down as soon as I saw the site. However it strikes me now as a project with muddled, or even multiple aims. 500/1000 masks is nothing in terms of normalising , and 2.5 grand could be used to do a lot of good stuff. If the point is to normalise masking up, at 10p a go you could buy 25,000 regular dust masks (not that i suggest this either to be a good use of the money) and hand them out to everyone at the next couple of major protests. I'm concerned that as noble an operation as NetPol may be, the main thing that is being highlighted by this project is that very organisation, and it sticks specific branding onto the anonymity (which is now diminished if you're one of a small number of people with the same logo on your face) of the bloc. Don't bother sending mine out, I'll stick with a piece of fabric i can ditch if need be, so at least thats 501 you can give out. Again, I support the intentions of Netpol, I just think this is the wrong way to go and gets dangerously close to tote bag anarchism.
We now accept donations to our crowdfunding appeal via PayPal - send to firstname.lastname@example.org
David, if you can email us at email@example.com, we'll see if we can come up with a solution
I was about to donate but you dont accept paypal, will this change?