"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.


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