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No joke: Anger as UK police tweet spy-cam image of comedian

FILE - This is a Saturday, July 7, 2012 file photo of British comedian Michael McIntyre, left, and comedian Miranda Hart, as they watch Serena Williams of the United States face Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland in the women's final match at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon, England. An image of the top of Micheal McIntyre's head has Britons debating the decline of privacy in an age of surveillance. On Wednesday July 15, 2015 the National Police Air Service, which operates camera-equipped helicopters, tweeted an image of a man with a mop of dark hair, asking if people could recognize "a certain energetic funny man." (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

LONDON (AP) — An image of the top of a comedian’s head has Britons debating the decline of privacy in an age of surveillance.

The picture was taken by the National Police Air Service, which operates camera-equipped helicopters — and uses a lively Twitter account to inform people about its activities.

On Wednesday, the service tweeted an image of a man with a mop of dark hair, asking if people could recognize “a certain energetic funny man” standing on a London street.

Many easily identified Michael McIntyre, one of Britain’s best-known standup comics, and some criticized the tweet as creepy and intrusive.

Police declared it “inappropriate” and the tweet was deleted.

Tony Porter, Britain’s surveillance camera commissioner, said Thursday that the tweet appeared to violate a code of conduct that says police can use surveillance cameras only for legitimate crime-fighting or public-safety purposes.

“If there is no operational requirement you shouldn’t be invading that person’s privacy,” Porter said.

Advocates, who have long expressed concern about privacy in a country with more than 4 million security cameras, were more blunt.

“With public concern around the misuse of state surveillance growing, this latest example suggests a blase attitude to our privacy,” said Rachel Robinson of human rights group Liberty.

McIntyre’s spokesman said the comedian had no comment.



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