The challenge as to your intentions as a photographer working in public space is becoming ever more prevalent. Not only, now, from the authorities, but members of the public, shopholders and others seem to want to know your business. Why are you photographing? What are you photographing? What will you do with the photographs? The nefarious photographer with his malevolent sidekick.
It's as if the camera is the evil ventriloquist's dummy.
Of course none of these questions need to be answered, but the seed of antagonism between the two parties is sown.
For example, I am taking a photograph of a detail in a shop window - which by its very nature exists to be looked into . The shopkeeper reacts angrily, accusing me of all sorts of underhand activities. He chooses to differentiate between the window shopper and the photographer, yet they are both forms of looking - and recording - but the record is deemed permanent in the case of the camera and temporary in the mind of the shopper.
Further, the question of ownership arises. Who owns this public land? By its nature it's public and open to all for all legal use - but a hierarchical attitude is growing that ranks the users of a public space. In cities it seems the shop holder or business owner believes he lies near the top of this rank.