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Thread: "You can't take pictures here" - Restrictions on photography

  1. #61
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Doubt that they will waste their time, but you never know ...

    Aside from the numerous low level security guys on construction sites who seem to be constantly telling me I can't pictures of their sacred building projects (one at the GS HQ even had the gall to say "Because of what happened across the street" ) I've only once run into an official type who told me to cool it. A Federal Officer outside the Javits Federal Building flashed her badge at me and informed me I was not allowed to photograph Federal buildings. She was nice -- but meant business. I put the camera away.

    Not sure what I'd do if anyone ever tried to confiscate my camera while I was on the sidewalks / streets of NYC.

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  3. #63
    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    They're just rentacops on a power trip.

  4. #64
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    He picked the wrong guys to harass.

    Takes a real mental giant to bug a news crew, and then to do so while they are interviewing the spokes person of the company that employs them.

    This is one of those things that needs to be aired. Private security should NEVER feel they have more of a right to tell individuals what to do and what not to do than anyone else.

  5. #65
    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    police will generally side with private security individuals in this kind of a dispute.

  6. #66

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    That video clip of that man getting "harassed" while trying to take pictures at Union Station is just ridiculous. I still don't understand why that security guard came up to them, simply said, "No photography," and when asked why, he couldn't even respond. In my opinion, I think the guard knew that when he approached both the chief spokesman and the news caster, he would get asked that question. So why do it? Ugh!

    When I was in New York, the only time I remember "getting in trouble" for taking pictures was in Chinatown when a little 'ol Chinese woman came out and started yelling at us for taking pictures of her fish market. It was funny that we couldn't understand her, but we respected her and walked off.

  7. #67
    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    I'm guessing she thought you were dept. of health/sanitation inspectors.

  8. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by stache View Post
    They're just rentacops on a power trip.
    That has a lot to do with it. Obviously, the number of "security" guards exploded after 9/11. They have what may be one of the worst and most mind-numbing jobs on the planet - to stand quietly for hours at elevator bank turnstiles and check IDs of building workers (as one example). So, for them to get to do something to break the monotony - like harass some poor schmo taking photos - is like Christmas for them.

  9. #69

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    Quote Originally Posted by stache View Post
    I'm guessing she thought you were dept. of health/sanitation inspectors.
    Yea, I guess that makes sense now. Chinatown is certainly not the cleanest place. But it's still an amazing place.

  10. #70

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    Are photographers really a threat?

    Bruce Schneier
    The Guardian, Thursday June 5 2008




    What is it with photographers these days? Are they really all terrorists, or does everyone just think they are?

    Since 9/11, there has been an increasing war on photography. Photographers have been harrassed, questioned, detained, arrested or worse, and declared to be unwelcome. We've been repeatedly told to watch out for photographers, especially suspicious ones. Clearly any terrorist is going to first photograph his target, so vigilance is required.

    Except that it's nonsense. The 9/11 terrorists didn't photograph anything. Nor did the London transport bombers, the Madrid subway bombers, or the liquid bombers arrested in 2006. Timothy McVeigh didn't photograph the Oklahoma City Federal Building. The Unabomber didn't photograph anything; neither did shoe-bomber Richard Reid. Photographs aren't being found amongst the papers of Palestinian suicide bombers. The IRA wasn't known for its photography. Even those manufactured terrorist plots that the US government likes to talk about -- the Ft. Dix terrorists, the JFK airport bombers, the Miami 7, the Lackawanna 6 -- no photography.

    Given that real terrorists, and even wannabe terrorists, don't seem to photograph anything, why is it such pervasive conventional wisdom that terrorists photograph their targets? Why are our fears so great that we have no choice but to be suspicious of any photographer?

    Because it's a movie-plot threat.

    A movie-plot threat is a specific threat, vivid in our minds like the plot of a movie. You remember them from the months after the 9/11 attacks: anthrax spread from crop dusters, a contaminated milk supply, terrorist scuba divers armed with almanacs. Our imaginations run wild with detailed and specific threats, from the news, and from actual movies and television shows. These movie plots resonate in our minds and in the minds of others we talk to. And many of us get scared.

    Terrorists taking pictures is a quintessential detail in any good movie. Of course it makes sense that terrorists will take pictures of their targets. They have to do reconnaissance, don't they? We need 45 minutes of television action before the actual terrorist attack -- 90 minutes if it's a movie -- and a photography scene is just perfect. It's our movie-plot terrorists that are photographers, even if the real-world ones are not.

    The problem with movie-plot security is it only works if we guess the plot correctly. If we spend a zillion dollars defending Wimbledon and terrorists blow up a different sporting event, that's money wasted. If we post guards all over the Underground and terrorists bomb a crowded shopping area, that's also a waste. If we teach everyone to be alert for photographers, and terrorists don't take photographs, we've wasted money and effort, and taught people to fear something they shouldn't.

    And even if terrorists did photograph their targets, the math doesn't make sense. Billions of photographs are taken by honest people every year, 50 billion by amateurs alone in the US And the national monuments you imagine terrorists taking photographs of are the same ones tourists like to take pictures of. If you see someone taking one of those photographs, the odds are infinitesimal that he's a terrorist.

    Of course, it's far easier to explain the problem than it is to fix it. Because we're a species of storytellers, we find movie-plot threats uniquely compelling. A single vivid scenario will do more to convince people that photographers might be terrorists than all the data I can muster to demonstrate that they're not.

    Fear aside, there aren't many legal restrictions on what you can photograph from a public place that's already in public view. If you're harassed, it's almost certainly a law enforcement official, public or private, acting way beyond his authority. There's nothing in any post-9/11 law that restricts your right to photograph.

    This is worth fighting. Search "photographer rights" on Google and download one of the several wallet documents that can help you if you get harassed; I found one for the UK, US, and Australia. Don't cede your right to photograph in public. Don't propagate the terrorist photographer story. Remind them that prohibiting photography was something we used to ridicule about the USSR. Eventually sanity will be restored, but it may take a while.

    Bruce Schneier is BT's chief security technology officer

  11. #71

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    So I guess people are believing everything they see in the movies.

  12. #72

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    You'd be surprised

  13. #73

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    We've been repeatedly told to watch out for photographers, especially suspicious ones.
    Maybe I just need to update my attire.


  14. #74

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    How can you tell the difference between a "suspicious photographer" and just a normal tourist/local who wants to take a picture of a building or monument?

  15. #75
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Add to it, the easiest way to do things like this would probably be with a camera that is not easily seen.

    These movie people should know that all the GOOD spy cameras really fit in a suitcase, hat, shoe, or pair of glasses!!!!!


    Geez!

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