A photograph of Michael McIntyre taken from aboard a Met Police helicopter and posted to twitter is being investigated by the information watchdog.
The now-deleted picture snapped the comedian on a London street on Wednesday morning with a caption asking people to guess who he was.
The image - outside the Global Radio offices in Leicester Square - provoked anger on social media, with some users expressing concern that the tweet was inappropriate.
@NPASLondon good job central London is a crime-free idyll. Otherwise this might smack of a terrible waste of time, effort and resources— nathan bevan (@nathbevan) July 15, 2015
@NPASLondon Did you seek the individual's consent? Or is this an abuse of your considerable surveillance powers?— Robin Wilton (@futureidentity) July 15, 2015
@NPASLondon Wow. That's kinda creepy— ☜ pee (@PeterDJMain) July 15, 2015
@NPASLondon talk about invasion of privacy, well out of order— Pete Chenzo (@cabbypetemfc) July 15, 2015ADVERTISEMENT
Police originally defended the picture, now being probed by the Information Commissioner's Office, but later removed it.
The Met Police told the Huffington Post: "This tweet does not as far as we know constitute a breach of data protection legislation.
"But due to reaction on Twitter we have deleted it."
massively innappropriate use of surveillance http://t.co/SUmB8IeePJ— Libertarian Home (@LibertarianHome) July 15, 2015
This is disgraceful. Hope he sues http://t.co/BLFWMLiYt1— Tony Horne (@HorneyMedia) July 15, 2015
Director of Big Brother Watch, an organisation dedicated to exposing the true scale of surveillance in the UK, Emma Carr told Huffington Post UK: "At best, posting this image was a complete waste of time.
Helicopter surveillance is overseen by the National Police Air Service, with regional bases across the country.
The ground operations director for the NPAS, Superintendent Richard Watson, said: "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."
Each aircraft carries a variety of hand-held digital cameras, capable of taking high-resolution images to be used for evidential purposes or to assist officers in planning and executing operations. They are also capable of streaming live footage to command bases.
Police also regularly fly planes, fitted with surveillance equipment capable of intercepting phone calls and listening in on conversations, over London, according to reports.
Ukip MEP for London Gerard Batten condemned the branch for posting the photo, saying: "The photograph of Michael McIntyre by a police helicopter and its publishing online is a gross misuse of police power.
"It isn't some private citizen taking a snap of a passing celebrity, this is the police, abusing their authority.
"The implications for civil liberties raised by this are appalling to consider. This isn't Hollywood, this is real life."