... the complaints about photographers getting harassed are invariably from UK and US. It could be that certain nations' photography forums complain about the same thing, but I haven't run into any issues in the countries I frequent....
People tend to complain (publicly) about things that are unusual and unexpected. Where I grew up, most people would't complain about police... it is taken for granted you have less rights than they do.
In other words, incidents in the US (at least) are more like those 'exceptions that prove the rule'. I am not saying they do not happen... and that they do not happen more often than before... or that people should't be complained about them, on the contrary. But they should be put into a proper perspective, i.e., as outliers. Similar things happen with other statistical phenomena: is a recent surge in, say, an illness a result of worsening medical conditions, or perhaps because people feel more comfortable reporting it and have more convenient ways for doing so than before? Or is it, perhaps, yet another example of the so-called "availability bias": bad news get reported in the media, i.e., become "available" to us, while normal (good) stuff does not?
Another point: police encounters are not the whole story. When they do end up in courts, photographers win all of the time (so far). The latest example:Photographer wins settlement over arrest
Or how about photographing or videotaping police in action directly? Recently, a guy was charged with "wiretapping" after posting a traffic police encounter on YouTube. The public was outraged (rightly), bloggers fumed (rightly), Internet forums mocked "the Land of the Free", proclaiming the arrival of a police state (wrongly). The judge, however, threw out the charge for wiretapping, saying there was no expectation of privacy in this case.
"In this rapid information technology era in which we live, it is hard to imagine that either an offender or an officer would have any reasonable expectation of privacy with regard to what is said between them in a traffic stop on a public highway,
" the judge wrote