The National Police Air Service (NPAS) in London tweeted a picture of British comedian Michael McIntyre standing on a street on Wednesday morning.
The picture was taken by a police helicopter and included the caption: “Whilst on tasking [sic] in central London this morning we spotted a certain energetic funny man ... Can you guess who?” notes The Guardian.
The picture sparked anger on Twitter over privacy issues and government spying, so the NPAS removed the tweet.
The Metropolitan Police in London use helicopters with hand-held digital cameras, which are directed by the NPAS, to spy on, photograph and film citizens.
NPAS ground operations director Richard Watson said in a statement:
We are aware of the tweet and, as far as we are aware, it does not breach any data protection legislation. We feel however it was inappropriate and it has since been removed.
We will be speaking to the person who posted the tweet.
According to ITVNews.com, the incident is being investigated for possible data breach laws by the Information Commissioner's Office, which said in a statement:
Police forces like all other organizations must comply with the Data Protection Act.
The police especially must ensure that they have legitimate grounds for processing personal data and disclosing images of this nature without a justifiable policing purpose could potentially breach the Data Protection Act. We will follow this up with the force concerned.
Surveillance Camera Commissioner Tony Porter added that, in his opinion, the tweeted picture violated the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice.
London's Metropolitan Police countered, "This tweet does not, as far as we know constitute a breach of data protection legislation."
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said the incident was wrong in principle.