Photography ban in the NYC Subways...

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by ManW_TheUncool, Jan 7, 2005.

  1. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Not sure if this is an acceptable subject here, but thought I'd try.

    Basically, the NY MTA has proposed a ban on cameras in the subways w/ a 45-day period for public comment that ends this weekend. They originally proposed it back in the summer, but backed off after getting lots of negative feedback (including from the Mayor). Now, they're back and seem to be trying to sneak it through the holiday season. See these links for some details:

    http://www.nydailynews.com/11-30-200...p-220531c.html

    http://www.nycsubway.org/photoban.html

    If you care about this issue, let your voice be heard even if you live outside NYC and/or the USA since tourism matters to NYC -- and tourists are some of the most likely shooters in the subways. Please sign this petition ASAP to help defeat the ban proposal (as the deadline is this weekend):

    http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/notransitpicban

    You can also send the MTA your comments directly via this page on their site -- just choose "Rules of Conduct Comment" for your category:

    http://mta-nyc.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/...0p_cat_lvl1=12

    Today, it's the NYC subway, but tomorrow, it could easily be many other public places around NYC, the USA or most anywhere else in the world. And yes, while I too am concerned about terrorism, this is no way to address it. What will they do next? Install metal detectors at the turnstyles and check people's bags as they enter the subways like they do at airports, etc? Ban cell phones everywhere because they can be instrumental for terrorism?

    You can also check the Straphangers Campaign to see what they're doing about the ban proposal, including a new direct letter, old poll, contest, etc:

    http://www.straphangers.org/photoban/index.htm

    _Man_
     
  2. Elinor

    Elinor Supporting Actor

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    Um, Man, HELLO ... it already is the case in Washington DC ... a ton of Federal Buildings are already banned from photography.

    Welcome to the new world order.
     
  3. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Hi, Elinor.

    Yes, I'm aware that Federal locations and many municipal ones too around the country (especially in NYC and DC area) already have such a ban in place. Indeed, there are even a few transit systems that also have a ban in place although New Jersey Transit actually recently revoked their ban. Regardless, that does not mean we should just let them add more to these bans, especially when the bans are so broad and general.

    In this case (and probably most involving transit systems), a ban will not do anything to stop terrorists, but will only stop law abiding citizens. Think about it. It's way easy for a terrorist to use a cell phone cam or even a small compact digicam to get surveilance quality photos w/out being detected. And really, what's to stop them from using their eyes and pen and paper anyway? And ironically, even as they propose this ban, they are *reducing* the MTA workforce, eg. token booth clerks, train conductors, etc, which actually weakens security rather than strengthens it. Meanwhile, they are also proposing more fare hikes despite only having passed one just last year.

    They should do their jobs rather than pass some lame bans that do nothing but take away our rights and give a superficial appearance of doing something.

    _Man_
     
  4. Elinor

    Elinor Supporting Actor

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    Well, your enthusiasm for citizen action is admirable.

    I've been around long enough to realize that until something slaps Joe/Jane America right across the face, they won't lift a finger to do anything about it.

    More rights are given away than are taken away.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Yes, I agree w/ you. And we shouldn't just give them away so easily.

    BTW, the ban hadn't passed yet (and wasn't even officially proposed until end of November), but I've certainly been told otherwise a few times since the summer nonetheless -- and I'm definitely not the only one. If people just trust everything that a cop or transit worker or whatever official says (as most people are likely to), they won't even need an actual ban or whatever laws.

    I'm not suggesting we make things difficult for the law enforcers, but then again, we don't want a police state here, do we?

    _Man_
     
  6. andrew markworthy

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    I'm sorry to sound naive, but how on earth does taking a photograph in a subway affect security?

    In the UK we had problems with the IRA for decades. At the height of 'The Troubles' in the seventies, whilst there were some very obvioius security measures put in place (which nobody objected to, incidentally) there was nothing as bizarre as a ban on cameras.
     
  7. Nigel McN

    Nigel McN Supporting Actor

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    Basically it seems the story is the same everywhere, there doesn't have to been any logic or actual reason behind what you do, as long as you appear to do something.
     
  8. Elinor

    Elinor Supporting Actor

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    >"I'm sorry to sound naive, but how on earth does taking a photograph in a subway affect security?"

    A few months ago several off-duty policy officers spotted a "family" taking camcorder footage as they crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. It seemed odd to them that the folks appeared to be (allegedly) photographing supports and the structure of the bridge itself. They were detained. After a few days, it was allegedly (am I covering myself well enough here?) discovered that the "father" of the family had some ties to an alleged terrorist group in the middle East.

    I don't know how the story unfolded after that.

    I think the fear is (founded or not) that having photos/footage can make the terrorists' job easier as they decide where to place charges in their supposed plots to blow up bridges, buildings, derail trains, etc.

    I think it's paranoia, combined with the desire to appear to be doing something to "fight the terrorists." I don't remember seeing that as a major initiative that was omitted in the 911 report, but hey, it IS visible.
     
  9. Don Black

    Don Black Screenwriter

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    This is ridiculous. So are the federal rules. Have any of these cases made it to a federal court yet?
     
  10. Carl Miller

    Carl Miller Screenwriter

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    I don't think it's paranoia. According to law enforcement, the WTC was photographed and cased by the terrorists both times before it was hit.

    It's not a stretch to suggest that having photographs of the platforms, signage, entrances and exits of the NYC subway system would make it easier for terrorists to strike....And increase the liklihood that the actual bomb planters would successfully plant a bomb where the planners wanted it.

    Having said that, I don't support the ban either for most of the reasons Man mentioned...though I'm not convinced such a ban would impact tourism one iota.
     
  11. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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  12. Patrick_S

    Patrick_S Producer

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    So are we going to ban pens, pencils and notebooks? After all one could just as easily make drawings of the area in order to map the items they want to study.

    This is just one of those foolish "see we are secure" type regulations that in the end accomplish nothing.
     
  13. Brian Perry

    Brian Perry Cinematographer

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    Weren't all the public garbage cans removed in London?
     
  14. Joseph S

    Joseph S Cinematographer

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    Maybe. More likely, they'll hold folks like yourself who point out the problems with this policy for "questioning." Can't give those terrorists tips. [​IMG]
     
  15. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    And how about them camera phones...
     
  16. andrew markworthy

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    Yes - and they still are at times of heightened security (the same applies to most big cities in the UK). It's a nuisance at times, but bear in mind that the IRA in particular used litter bins (sorry, I mean public garbage cans) as a place to hide a bomb. So do a lot of other terrorist groups.

    I must say that the ban on cameras is dumb, simply because spy cameras and other forms of covert surveillance (i.e. the sorts of things terrorists will easily be able to do) won't be stopped by this legislation, whilst normal tourist activity will.

    If American authorities are doing things like banning cameras but not public garbage cans, then sorry, but you guys have a l-o-o-o-o-ng way to go in getting effective against terrorists.
     
  17. Patrick_S

    Patrick_S Producer

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    Oh my God I'll have to buy some sunscreen since I burn so easily.
     
  18. Elinor

    Elinor Supporting Actor

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    >"I don't think it's paranoia. According to law enforcement, the WTC was photographed and cased by the terrorists both times before it was hit."

    Yes, and by millions of tourists, without incident.

    To ban something because some nut case potentially might do something bad with it, is useless. It never has prevented a single case of the nut job doing the crazy thing. It just inconveniences everyone else.

    So do we ban photography of everything? Why just Fed. Bldgs and subways? Every bridge, every tall building, everything made by humans. And hey, don't just stop with photography. Let's ban people filming with camcorders. And SKETCHING. If they are sketching they MIGHT use the sketches to decide where to plant charges. But heck, they might have good memories. Let's ban them from LOOKING AT STUFF for too long.
     
  19. John Alvarez

    John Alvarez Screenwriter

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    I can see this thread getting banned soon...[​IMG]
     
  20. Mike Voigt

    Mike Voigt Supporting Actor

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    The removal of litter bins/trash cans in public locations was a direct result of such lovely incidents as the (continued) IRA attacks using bombs in such locations, as well as the (now happily defunct) Bader-Meinhof "red army faction" that used to terrorize Germany. Those who have been to Frankfurt Airport know that it has large glass windows at the entrance - several stories high - and those got blown out (and I belive several people killed) jsut because of such bombs.

    I've also flown into that airport and seen the local police - not the armed forced, mind you! - bearing automatic weapons.

    We are still a very safe - and secluded - country over here. Thank goodness we have NOT been exposed to the kind of stuff Europe has, but we can most certainly learn from their experiences. As I am sure some folks are.

    Mike
     

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