Police

Winning The War on Photography

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Glenn Reynolds writes in Popular Mechanics about The War on Photography in Public Places:

What should you do if you're taking photos and a security guard or police officer approaches you and tells you to stop? First, be polite. Security people have tough jobs and probably mean well. Ask them what legal authority they have to make you stop. (If you're in a public place, like a street, a park, etc., they have none; if you're in a private place, such as a shopping mall, they may have a basis for banning pictures.) Krages advises those hassled by security guards to threaten to call law enforcement. If it's an actual police officer who's telling you to stop shooting, ask to speak to a superior. And remember–you never have a legal duty to delete pictures you've taken.

More importantly, we need better education among security guards and law enforcement. In Britain, the country's police chiefs' association is attempting to educate officers about the rights of photographers. So far, nothing like that has happened in the U.S., but it should. Trying to block photography in public places is not only heavy-handed and wrong but, thanks to technology, basically useless. With the proliferation of cameras in just about every device we carry, digital photography has become too ubiquitous to stop. Let's have a truce in the war on photography and set our sights on the real bad guys. Who, it seems, don't carry cameras anyway.

Whole thing here.

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  1. More importantly, we need better education among security guards and law enforcement.

    Truer words…

    1. Meh. Give them more education and they’ll demand to make six figures to start, not just after six months.

    2. I’m sorry, but I do not think it is education at all – it is a concious and purposefully plan to evade responsiblity and accountability for their actions.
      and a better question, although smartass, is “If you behaving legally, why do you fear being photographed???”

      1. Exactly. It’s the same as when a cop says “If you’ve got nothing to hide, why do you object to being searched?”

  2. Ask them what legal authority they have to make you stop. (If you’re in a public place, like a street, a park, etc., they have none;

    I imagine this varies by jurisdiction.

      1. Reason had a blurb in the Citings section of the latest issue about a blogger arrested and his memory card confiscated for photographing a defendant on the court steps coming out from a trial because the government had made photography of government property illegal, even from a public place.

        1. Wow, and there’s a lot of government property out there.

        2. So I guess the tens of millions of people who visit national parks every year are all guilty.

        3. Thanks Jason, this is exactly what I was thinking about. It was a law localized to that jurisdiction, hence my comment.

          1. Just because a law has been passed, doesnt grant a legal authority.

            1. I don’t think any law prohibiting photographing something from a public space could survive constitutional scrutiny. At least I hope it couldn’t.

              1. I’m pretty sure bans on upskirt photography in a public place would stand up to constitutional scrutiny.

              2. Photographing sensitive military installations using a long range lens, even from a public place, might also be questionable.

            2. IANAL but I think until the law has been overturned by a court, even if it’s almost certain that it will be, it’s still “the law” and can be enforced.

              Here’s a link to the incident:
              Suit Filed to Allow Photography Near U.S. Buildings

              1. An unconstitutional law can be enforced, but it can also be disobeyed.

                How that plays out could be tricky.

                Essentially, if you don’t disobey a law or insist on it being unconstitutional, you don’t have legal standing to try to have it overturned.

        4. Good God, I only thought that sort of restriction was in place in absolutist countries like the UAE.

        5. I can’t imagine such a law would withstand constitutional scrutiny. I can’t take a picture of someone standing on the courthouse steps, because it’s “governmnent property”?

          Bullshit. Any court worth half its salt would shoot that down in a heartbeat, as a violation of the First Amendment.

  3. We don’t need better education. We need APCs, Ma Deuces, M4s, tactical gear, M82s, tear gas, flash bangs, ACOGs…

    What I am I forgetting Sheriff Joe?

    1. Specially developed rounds made specifically for maximum damage of dogs.

  4. Here’s a handy guide to print and keep in your camera case.

    1. Nice. Thanks for that.

    2. From the guide you linked to:

      Absent a specific legal prohibition
      such as a statute or ordinance, you are
      legally entitled to take photographs.

      …. so jurisdictional.

      1. See my post above.

        1. … and my reply.

  5. “Security people have tough jobs and probably mean well”

    [Commentariat foam at collective mouth, go a little insane]

  6. This really is a case where civil disobedience is needed. Sadly, we all need to go out and start taking pictures. The only way this will stop is if so many people do it the cops can no longer do this stuff.

    How about having a national public photography day? Start a facebook page on it. And set one day say in October where everyone in the country comes out and takes pictures of local landmarks. Millions of people out just taking pictures as a way to protest this crap? I seriously considering doing it. Would it work? Would it do any good?

    1. And set one day say in October where everyone in the country comes out and takes pictures of local landmarks law enforcement.

      This would probably help.

    2. Good idea, John. Really.
      Perhaps Reason would set it in motion (as long as there are no photos of Mohammad). Nick?

    3. World Sousveillance Day.

      Not exactly what you’re talking about, but the ball is rolling.

      1. so 100,000 surveillance cameras in NYC is not ok and is intrusive…but a movement to get 300 million flavor flav wannabes wearing cameras around their necks recording everything is perfectly fine.

        Right…

  7. Let’s have a truce in the war on photography and set our sights on the real bad guys. Who, it seems, don’t carry cameras anyway.

    Video-taping our crime spree was the best idea we ever had!

  8. What’s needed on every cellphone, is an app that automatically uploads/streams photos and videos to the web as they are recorded. There are some outthere already for Android phones, dunno about iPhone or BlackBerrys

    1. No, what’s needed is a tiny lawyer that will come out and threaten to sue as soon as a cop starts to say “turn off that camera…”

      1. So you want a little prick?

      2. Failing these technical tactics, maybe the drones should learn a little about the Constitution.

    2. Not sure how well this works, but

      http://itookthisonmyphone.com/

  9. What is called for is for somebody to get arrested and then file a lawsuit for false arrest. THAT will get their attention.
    So while you are photographing the officer make sure that somebody else is photographing you photographing the officer…

    1. There usually is.

      1. Yeah, we would have had the tape, but the camera had, uh, technical difficulties. For some reason – we don’t know why – those 4 minutes of tape are blank.

  10. In Britain, the country’s police chiefs’ association is attempting to educate officers about the rights of photographers.

    In a police state, you would have to do that indeed. In a free state, personal rights would be a GIVEN, no need to “remind” the police about it.

    1. Given by whom?

  11. “And remember–you never have a legal duty to delete pictures you’ve taken.”

    And when the cop takes your camera anyway and deletes the pictures, what are you going to do? He probably has sovereign immunity.

  12. Imagine not being allowed to photograph Big Ben or the Houses of Parliment!? They’re all Govt buildings right!?

    Photography Poses

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