Civil Liberties

"In the Meantime, the Police Have Managed to Stop the Person from Photographing"

The war on cameras continues.


The War on Cameras—an evergreen topic here at Reason—has attracted the attention of The New York Times. From an interview today with Mickey H. Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association:

Q: What's caused this?

A: It's been a perfect storm. There's 9/11, and now photojournalists who traditionally worked for newspapers are losing their jobs and becoming freelancers who may not have the backing of their news organizations. You have Occupy Wall Street, where police didn't want some of their actions to be photographed. And now everybody with a cellphone is capable of recording very high-quality images. And everyone has the ability to upload and share them almost instantly.

The law is on the photographer's side, Osterreicher stresses, but police often get away with evading the law:

What we're seeing is photographers being charged with disorderly conduct, trespass and obstruction of governmental administration for doing their job. I call it the catch and release program. Almost always the D.A. will drop the charges immediately. But in the meantime, the police have managed to stop the person from photographing.

And then there's this reminder that a right many officials would deny to the public is one that the state has no qualms about claiming for itself:

If you're in public, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy. That's the difference between what is public and what is private. It's the reason that all those security cameras that are on every city street are allowed to photograph us, because when we're out in public we have no reasonable expectation of privacy.

The whole conversation is worth reading.

Update: Make that worth reading again. Looks like Lucy Steigerwald already blogged this. Apologetic apologies for the redundant redundancy.