Critical infrastructure. Photo by discarted
Homeland Security head Janet Napolitano told reporters last week that we all need to be aware and on the lookout for terrorists on the prowl, and that means calling in photographers “continually taking photographs of a piece of critical infrastructure that doesn’t seem to make any sense.” Jeesh, way to set us back, oh, about eight years, Janet. I feel like I’m having flashbacks to a different administration.
Just when it looked like there was a little progress, with Amtrak and the NYPD revising or clarifying their policies – now, law enforcement has a renewed mandate to harass photographers who “continually” shoot, say, their local ports or skyscrapers. I can just see the cop or security guard who finds that type of photography just ”doesn’t make sense.”
Article from PDNPulse
Read the National Press Photographers Association response here
It’s been a good week for paranoia-inducing ad campaigns. London has rolled out its latest counter-terrorism posters, which feature, among others images, a full trash can and a security camera with the message that people need to report on their neighbors and fellow citizens when things seem off. This is in addition to the posters released earlier that specifically targeted photographers and cell phone users.
Incidentally, a three-year study released in February found that the anti-terror methods employed in places like the US and the UK are illegal and counter-productive. While the study specifically referred to the detainment and torture of terrorism suspects, I think it can be applied to the overall climate for so-called “suspicious” activity, including photography. Our leaders not only don’t have a problem with using our fear to implement measures that are not legal or ethical, they are relying on it as a tool of governance.
“Many governments, ignoring the lessons of history, have allowed themselves to be rushed into hasty responses to terrorism that have undermined cherished values and violated human rights,” said the chairman of the study’s panel of legal experts.
To boil it all down, it just seems so incredibly ham-handed. Do people need to be reminded to report something they feel is suspicious? And why do our governments need to fight the the nebulous beast that is international terrorism by impairing their own peoples’ quality of life?
Article via Boing Boing
A recent article in The Guardian by security technologist and author Bruce Schneier says that photographers have been coming under increasing scrutiny since 9/11 under the auspices of national security. But, he says:
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.
He makes a good point. Outlawing photography makes politicans and law enforcement feel good, like they’re doing something in the fight. Unfortunately they’re going after the wrong people.
And in case there was any doubt, he gives this nice reminder:
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.
Article via The Guardian.
Photo via let ‘er rip.
After being harassed by authorities on a busy street, Rajesh Thind investigates the photographers’ rights issue in London. The one particularly aggressive officer perfectly encapsulates the fearful authority who isn’t quite sure what he’s after or what he’s enforcing, he just thinks it’s “suspicious.” “Can you tell me why you’re filming here? Gimme a good reason!” and “Gimme ID first!”
John Toner from the National Union of Journalists says in the video, “Taking pictures using film [or] video is not in itself a crime.”
Travis Puderbaugh, one of the photographers who came out for NPRD on Sunday, was harassed by authorities shortly after the rally broke up. He was taking photos of California Plaza at Grand and 3rd in downtown LA when he was approached by security officers. They were polite, but still clearly stepping beyond the parameters of their authority in asking him to stop taking photos of a public building — from a public sidewalk. Part of their protocol it seems is to place a call into “Angelwar,” which is apparently an anti-terrorism force, to “just file a follow-up report with them.”
Read his full account here.
Photo by Travis Puderbaugh.