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Photographers Face Ejection Over Lenses 743

destinyland writes "Zooomr CEO Thomas Hawk was ejected from a San Francisco art museum because the security guard apparently thought his expensive camera could be used to spy on female employees. Another photographer notes that 'many people consider a professional-looking camera a threat,' and the state of California has even passed a law against telephoto lenses being used to intrude on celebrities' private lives. Hawk is routinely confronting security guards who argue that photographing their buildings represents a 'security threat.' Ironically, four weeks ago while attending Microsoft's Pro Photo Summit, he was told he couldn't even photograph the lobby of a Hyatt Hotel."
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Photographers Face Ejection Over Lenses

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  • by suso ( 153703 ) * on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:21AM (#24613763) Homepage Journal

    Hawk is routinely confronting security guards who argue that photographing their buildings represents a 'security threat.'

    A few months ago I was in the Prudential Center Mall and Copley Place in Boston. I was just looking around after attending Red Hat Summit. I saw a store that I knew my wife would love to have a picture of and took a picture of the front of it with my cell phone. A security guard came over and told me that I couldn't take pictures inside the mall. At first I thought that she was wrong about that, but decided not to challenge it since I already had taken the picture I wanted and didn't want to do anything that would jepordize missing my flight later that day. So I walked away and went over and asked another security guard about the policy on taking pictures and she also stated that you can't take pictures inside shopping malls. I went back to a computer and looked it up and found that they were wrong. If they asked me to leave, I'd have to leave or else face trespassing charges, but they can't stop me from taking pictures in what is considered a public place. They are just using something similar to the chilling effect to try to stop me because I'm guessing the owners of the shopping mall don't want people taking pictures. For the record, I know shopping malls are privately owned, but they let you walk in and out freely without needing a key.

  • by Reality Master 201 ( 578873 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:21AM (#24613767) Journal

    Is this all fallout from 9/11? If so, did OBL ever think in his wildest dreams he'd be able to fuck us up this seriously?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:23AM (#24613789)

    Then only terrorists will have nice photos.

  • by Apple Acolyte ( 517892 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:23AM (#24613793)
    The evil telephoto lens. . . .
  • by LordKronos ( 470910 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:25AM (#24613817)

    No problem. All you need is a standard lens, a really high resolution scanning back, and the crop tool.

  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:29AM (#24613855) Homepage

    Yes, that part of it is just US paranoia. The rest of the world just has OMG paranoia if there happen to be any minors nearby.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:30AM (#24613871)

    get picture even outside of few building in and around NYC........I am also an immigrant and my skin color differs from the locals.

    Called you on your BS. NYC - immigrant and skin color - in NYC???? Geez are you purple? Otherwise you blend right in!! Sheesh!

    On second thought, in NYC, even if you were purple, you'll blend in so...BS

  • Re:Amusing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:33AM (#24613921) Homepage

    1. How dare [private citizens] stop [private citizens] from taking photographs of public places [without any interest in the private citizens that happen incidentally to be in the shot]! Censorship!
    2. How dare [the State] take pictures of [private citizens] in public places [for the express purpose of recording and monitoring the acts of those citizens]! Privacy, Police State!

    There, fixed that for you. If we're going to debate (I know we're not, but...) let's at least get our terms of reference straight from the start.

  • by halcyon1234 ( 834388 ) <halcyon1234@hotmail.com> on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:34AM (#24613943) Journal

    represents a 'security threat.'... he was told he couldn't even photograph the lobby of a Hyatt Hotel."

    Goddamnit, that totally fucks up my plans. Without those pictures, how the hell am I supposed to draft my plan to bomb the Hyatt Hotel? Knowing what the lobby looked like from one fixed angle based off photos from some random dude was totally vital to my ability to plant the bomb properly. Now how in the world could I possibly ever get hold of such pictures? [google.ca]

  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <qg@biodome.org> on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:36AM (#24613963) Homepage Journal

    Grow a spin. When Mr Security says "I'll take your camera" you say "just fucking try" and if they don't go off to get their superior then you call your lawyer. And that's the problem with authority, people are not willing to stand up to it so people overstepping their position become the norm and then the norm becomes unspeakable and then the unspeakable becomes unquestionable. So take your pictures and when they ask you to stop, say no.

  • Re:Amusing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:37AM (#24613977)

    Believe it or not, this is not hypocracy. We limit the powers and abilities of the government in the Constitution of the United States. This is something that apprarently you and many others have forgotten. As a private citizen, I can tell people what they can and cannot publish on my press, I can tell people on my property that they are not allowed to have handguns in my home, I can take and endorse an official "household religion", and I can deny people the right to peacibly assembly on my front lawn.

    The government cannot do any of the above.

  • by lena_10326 ( 1100441 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:40AM (#24614033) Homepage

    As far as I understand in USA, a mall is private property, so the owners can informally prohibit picture taking inside the mall but cannot if you're taking pictures from a public place adjacent to the mall. Had you refused the guard and ignored his request for you to leave, you'd be trespassing and he could detain you for trespass, but not photography. There is no law saying you cannot shoot photos inside a public building, but they can certainly ask you to leave if they don't like it. I don't believe he can confiscate your camera. That would be theft and threats of such is typical of badge bullies who twist the law hoping to invoke fear in you.

    There are two types of law. The law on the books. And, whatever the guy with the gun says is the law. The security guy follows the latter so even though he may be violating your rights, it's best to comply and sue later.


  • Re:Amusing (Score:1, Insightful)

    by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <qg@biodome.org> on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:44AM (#24614081) Homepage Journal

    Who modded this troll? Wake the fuck up alright?

    There's a whole bunch of kicking and screaming going on over Google Street Map right now because they dare actually do the work and make an actual product that has scared a few people into realizing that maybe the idea of "public space" wasn't exactly what they thought it was. "When you're in public you can be photographed in public, get over it" is my opinion but some have the idea that Google has shown that the law of "you can photograph anything that is 'in public'" is flawed and , in-fact, there's an expectation of privacy that goes beyond the 4th amendment (in the US) and reeks of something we can only call "cultural values".. and Google threatens to erode those values.. Boo Hoo.

    So no, this isn't a freakin' troll, it's a pertinent point on the current battle that is going on between those who want more freedom or those who want more privacy or those who just want to be able to find the restaurant they're looking for in the 20 minutes they've got to arrange their trip.

  • by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:45AM (#24614097) Journal

    raise awareness about the change in policy due to 9/11.

    Indeed. Back when I was young I was heavily into photography, and often carried an SLR with a 135mm lens. Back then nobody cared. Ironically, these days they don't want you photographing, yet there are Big Brother cameras (including government cameras) everywhere.

    It's too late to change awareness; the terrorists have won.

  • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:46AM (#24614099)

    When I took the trans-Siberian in the 1970's, there was a long list of things (airports, train stations, bridges) that you weren't supposed to take pictures of. This was enforced (if spottily), too. I heard of people being arrested for photographing a bridge.

    At the time, this was viewed (in the West) as evidence of the paranoia of a dictatorship and a closed society. Now, I guess it is a sign that the Soviet Union was in the vanguard of the development of civilization after all. Who knew ?

  • by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 ) <{tms} {at} {infamous.net}> on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:47AM (#24614131) Homepage

    The museum had a policy of no photographs. This is hardly uncommon: not only do many people find it annoying to stumble over photographers and deal with flashes while they're trying to look at art, but repeated exposure to light flashes can damage art.

    Hawk was well aware of the policy. He choose to violate it, claiming to be some sort of "renegade photographer" whose rights to photograph are more important than those of others to enjoy the venue in peace, and more important than the

    This is not a censorship issue. This is a guy being an ass in a museum and getting ejected.

    There have been legitimate issues of people being unfairly or illegally harassed for taking photographs in public places. This isn't one of them.

  • by jonnythan ( 79727 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:49AM (#24614151)

    Since when does the opinion of most laypeople determine the law?

  • by silentcoder ( 1241496 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:49AM (#24614167)

    In Nigeria. The company I worked for used to hire a lot of fresh-out-of-school interns with no experience and train them up so they could then get better jobs outside (it was part of our CSR to do skills development). Sort of like an internship, but they earned a salary. While I was on a project there, one of the 'youngsters' as we called them was asked to come join me on the project to learn. He had never been on a plane before, or out of South Africa. So of course he took LOTS of pictures, including of the airport in Lagos - since these things were all new to him.

    Next thing he knew, he gets arrested by airport police - his pictures of airplanes apparently constituted industrial espionage !

    Now how you can be guilty of industrial espionage against a country for taking pictures of technology NOT DEVELOPED IN THAT COUNTRY, and on the market to the whole world for 30 years (try finding a plane younger than that in Nigeria) I don't know, but that was their excuse.
    I got one of my local contacts to go bail him out, a bit of money changed hands (this WAS Nigeria after all) and he was released with the charges dropped.

    I just never expected that the idiocies of corrupt guards (whether they are private security acting for corporate overlords or cops acting for the state is really rather irrelevant) being able to intimidate people out of basic rights (taking a picture is a form of art, that's expression = free speech) happening in the so-called DEVELOPED world. You EXPECT that kind of bullshit to happen in Nigeria, you don't expect it in the USA.
    Mind you, these days that's not so true anymore, recent history has made me believe that the US's love affair with civil liberties is pure lip service.

  • by base3 ( 539820 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:53AM (#24614227)
    Yup, lots of things they told us about the U.S.S.R. as evidence of their totalitarian lack of freedom seem to be common place here in the U.S.A.: de facto internal passports for air and rail travel, obligation to produce papers on demand, cultivation of informants, mass surveillance, and (as you pointed out) restrictions on photography.
  • by whisper_jeff ( 680366 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:57AM (#24614283)
    "...then you call your lawyer."

    Because everyone has a lawyer on retainer for just such a situation...
  • by KingSkippus ( 799657 ) * on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:58AM (#24614303) Homepage Journal

    From what I read in the photographer's rights document that I read, it came down to being able to get into the facility without a key, special permission or some credential.

    Not having to use a key or credential does not make it public property.

    Assuming you have a yard, if I went to your house, walked through your yard, and started taking pictures through the windows of your house, is it okay because I'm on public property? After all, you don't have your yard secured by a key or other credential. If you're having a party and it looks like a public place, does that make a difference?

    The other posters are right. The mall is private property, you have no "right" to be there, and they can ask you to leave at any time. I agree that it's pretty sucky to ask you to do so because you're taking pictures, but there's no law against them being sucky. (There is a law, however, against you staying there after they've asked you to leave. It's called trespassing.)

  • by Nimey ( 114278 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:59AM (#24614305) Homepage Journal

    As has been observed, "terrorism" and "pedophilia" are the root passwords to the Constitution.

  • policy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:05AM (#24614403) Journal
    I'm not a security guard.

    But do try to see it from their point of view.

    Often they are told by their bosses that "this is the policy, enforce it". It's not like they have the luxury of saying "hey I think this policy is stupid".

    So if they don't tell you to stop, they could lose their jobs.

    If they tell you to stop, and things go the wrong way, they could also lose their jobs (see one of the cases involving Mr CEO photographer[1]).

    It's not like most of them can afford the _time_ and money to seek legal redress if they get sacked just for being put in a stupid situation that's completely their fault.

    If the security guard is really being an asshole, then maybe he deserves it.

    But if the security guard is NOT being an asshole about it, maybe you should take it up with the people setting the policy, not the guard. Do you absolutely have to take that picture?

    Sure you have the right to swing your fist about, as long as it is what the courts may view as a reasonable distance from others. But that doesn't necessarily mean you _have_ to keep swinging it about, when someone requests you to stop for whatever reason.

    When someone wield a gun and a uniform and makes you do something, yes sometimes that can be bullying.

    BUT don't forget, you can wield the law and be a bully as well.

    If my friend asks me to stop taking pictures of him even in public places, I'd probably stop. Perhaps the guard is not your friend, but why not be friendly?

    You can be 100% in the right all the time and have no friends.

    [1] Seems a security guard showed Mr CEO Photographer the finger and lost his job for it. I'm not aware of the full story, and yes maybe the guard was out of line, but I dunno, security guards losing their jobs for showing someone a finger? Heck, real cops don't seem to lose their jobs for doing worse.
  • by Skagit ( 910458 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:07AM (#24614433)
    But, it's probably not even necessary, as blueprints and photos exist on the internet for any target one might find interesting.

    You are absolutely correct.

    Our project manager was doing a site visit to the George Washington Bridge in New York City. The Port Authority people told him he couldn't take any pictures of the bridge, for security reasons. Never mind that dozens of highway contractors, painting contractors, steel contractors, scaffold contractors and scads of engineering firms, architectural firms, government agencies of all forms and engineering schools have structural drawings in whole or part. Never mind one MILLION hits on Google images. Never mind the Historic American Buildings Survey in the Library of Congress http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/habs_haer/index.html [loc.gov] has wonderful high-definition scans of large and medium format film photos. This one is my favorite. You can check the rivet patterns: http://memory.loc.gov/pnp/habshaer/ny/ny1200/ny1264/photos/119063pv.jpg [loc.gov]

    It has nothing to do with security. It has everything to do with control. Problem is, when I point out the idiocy of the situation, the contradictory rules and the artificial restrictions this security places on good practice, they tell my boss I'm harassing the (Port Authority|ConEd|MTA) employees. I feel it is my duty as a professional engineer to point out the incredibly poor results (both in construction and in intention) of these rules that a layman may not be able or interested to do. It doesn't help that the (PA|CE|MTA) usually guys start with a nasty attytood, no construction background and no project preparation.
  • Re:Funny. . . . . (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Arimus ( 198136 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:10AM (#24614475)

    And if I use a nice fast (say f2.8) lens or a stabilized lens (such as the Cannon IS or Nikon VR ranges) I don't need to use flash ergo less damage than someone using a small compact camera.

    If museums didn't get shirty with people using monopods as well as 'good' lenses then there would be even less need for flash.


  • by Ford Prefect ( 8777 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:11AM (#24614493) Homepage

    When Mr Security says "I'll take your camera" you say "just fucking try" and if they don't go off to get their superior then you call your lawyer.

    Or, don't. Many of these photographer-versus-security-guard altercations appear to involve photographers immediately acting up with shrill "I KNOW MY RIGHTS!!!!1" tirades against said guards. Okay, you may well be correct, but you're only going to escalate the situation.

    I've found that apologising, immediately moving to put the camera away and politely providing a brief explanation of what I was doing can work wonders - the other week, I ended up being given a potted history and miniature tour of some old industrial architecture by the people working there, and was provided with recommendations of where else to look at.

    Actually engaging with your subject (or inhabitants thereof) and not acting like a total nob is great. And even if the person telling you continues to be unpleasant, defusing the situation, going somewhere else and getting the camera out again works okay...

    (Mr. Hawk is a complete pansy, anyway - was he shouted at by Polish military personnel for taking photos of their security arrangements? Okay, it was their ridiculously fluffy, damp and grumpy-looking guard dog [hylobatidae.org] I'd taken a photo of, and taking pictures of such stuff in Poland is now legal anyway, but the politely-apologise, put-camera-into-bag-and-walk-away route worked just fine...)

  • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:11AM (#24614499)
    The UK is rapidly labelling photographers as either perverts or terrorists.

    There are numerous documented cases of photographers being hassled as either child-molesters (if children appear in the frame - even if they are their own kids) or terrorists - even if photographing in a public space.

    The police (well, PCSO's - lite police, with no training worth a dam' or any police powers) regularly harass photographers. Even if you are in the right, there's nothing to prevent them detaining you for several hours without charge.

    For whatever reason, the powers that be have remained remarkably silent on the issue. When pressed, they avoid saying that taking photos in a public place is legal. Instead they put caveats around it, such as mentioning public order offences and invasion of privacy (although the number of CCTV cameras makes a mokery of this).

    As it is, countries like North Korea or Iran have fewer restrictions on what law-abiding citizens or tourists may do in a public place.

  • by Mr Foobar ( 11230 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:13AM (#24614551) Homepage

    What's so interesting to me about OBL and his terrorism is that even before 9/11, we had our current president Bush telling us that terrorism is bad because their actions make us change the way we live our lives, to live in fear, and not be free to act American. If these things happen, then the terrorists win.

    And since 9/11, we Americans have had our lives changed, to live in fear, and not act as Americans. But OBL didn't do this, Bush and his cohorts did in so many changes in our root American culture.

    And so OBL has won.

  • Re:Amusing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by krazytekn0 ( 1069802 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:19AM (#24614729) Homepage Journal
    I think he's talking about google street view, in which case your frame of references are wrong.
  • Re:Amusing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dog-Cow ( 21281 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:22AM (#24614755)

    Most of the stink that Google has gotten into has been cases where the photographers went onto private property to take pictures of private property.

    People certainly have the right to complain in other cases, but there is no expectation of privacy, just a desire.

  • by aliquis ( 678370 ) <dospam@gmail.com> on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:22AM (#24614761) Homepage

    But is it so hard to find pictures of an airport? Or just travel there and plan it in advance? Or get a general overview from airport maps / google earth / whatever?

    Also the terrorist to tourist ratio are probably quite low ..

  • by Oligonicella ( 659917 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:24AM (#24614833)
    This stuff is nothing new at all. I got security people telling me that in the days before digital, much less 9/11. Security guards make every attempt to feel self-important. That is all.
  • by Raumkraut ( 518382 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:27AM (#24614889)

    Everyone over 30 has a family lawyer.. otherwise you're just a smuck.

    Number 37 on the list of indicators that your society is heading for, or is already located in the vicinity of, the shitter.

  • by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:29AM (#24614935) Journal

    Never in the history of photography has a small, cheap, "consumer" grade point-and-shoot camera been so capable.

    A good P&S can approach the quality of an SLR for the majority of cases, and can be just as effective as a terrorist tool (i.e. not at all). In decent lighting, a camera with 10x optical zoom is going to get fairly similar results to an SLR for normal sized pictures. Alternatively, there are some serious pro cameras that _look_ like consumer stuff, if you don't know your cameras (Leica M series anyone?)

    So basically it boils down to rent-a-cops who don't feel comfortable around certain cameras, for no good reason.

  • by VdG ( 633317 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:30AM (#24614955)

    It's not just the US: there have been reports of photographers here in the UK getting hassled by people - including the police - for taking pictures in public places.

    I think it's because a lot of people have bought into the security theatre, including police officers who should know better. Govt says so-and-so has all this dangerous information in his home, including photos of potential targets and eventually everyone starts thinking that photos are in some way dangerous.

    With the number of cameras around it is a bit ridiculous. CCTVs in nearly every town centre; digital cameras in everybody's pockets; Google's lovely camera cars. Some enthusiast with an SLR really isn't a threat: someone who wanted pictures for nefarious purposes could get them quite simply with no-one the wiser.

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:31AM (#24614971) Journal

    Or, don't. Many of these photographer-versus-security-guard altercations appear to involve photographers immediately acting up with shrill "I KNOW MY RIGHTS!!!!1" tirades against said guards. Okay, you may well be correct, but you're only going to escalate the situation.

    You can escalate, or you can surrender. Which is worse? I suppose it depends whether or not you already have the shot.

  • by silentcoder ( 1241496 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:31AM (#24614975)

    >but uncomfortable because he's being kinda creepy.

    Sorry, let me get this straight ? Being 'creepy' should be against the law according to you ? You do realize that to most of the rest of the planet the average slashdotter's entire LIFE is 'kinda creepy' don't you ? Living in a basement. Watches porn but doesn't have the spherical appendages to talk to actual females... on the rare occasions he tries he looks/sounds/acts in way that makes their 'stalker alert' neurons fire (however true or false it may be of the specific slashdotter)...

    On the other hand... I find cheerleaders and commerialist drones to be 'kinda creepy'. I find absolutely ANYBODY who wears a pair of sketchers shoes with a picture of Che to be SERIOUSLY creepy (do they not REALIZE that their outfit is simultaneously promoting two ideals that are directly contradictory ?) ... I would love to be able to ban that, but I know I SHOULDN'T be able to ban it, because if I can ban what I find creepy, then everyone can... and then anything except the utmost of conformist behavior will very soon be banned.
    I grew up in a country and culture that was like that, it took us just short of a civil war to change it - trust me, you do NOT want to live in a world where being different is considered illegal, or grounds to have less rights.
    I say it again: taking a picture (no matter what off) is an artform, artforms are expression, and expression is legally protected free speech.
    You may not like his methods, or what he took pictures of, or where - but none of that changes that he was stopped from creating a piece of art for absolutely no good reason. Being 'creepy' is NOT a good reason, it's not even a bad reason - it's no reason at all. If he was a bit eccentric, well he's an artist - most of them are a bit eccentric, it's part of what makes them good at it.

  • by lena_10326 ( 1100441 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:31AM (#24614979) Homepage

    They see the huge camera and think "I hope he's not taking pictures of MY kid!"

    You have a point. There's no logical difference between a big camera and a small commodity camera. They complain about you but not about other parents with crappy little automatic cameras. That's illogical. However, if the camera has a high quality zoom lense, people do wonder if you're using it to shoot crotch shots or to peek down shirts from 50 feet away. It's only natural to wonder when your kids are playing on the soccer field and there you are with a high-powered lense capable of reading the text of a newspaper left on the moon.

    The only issue I have with photographers photographing me or my family is that I don't know where that photo ends up. If it ends up in someone's personal album, fine. I don't care. If it ends up on their little personal website, I'm not worried about the 100 visitors a year who may see it. But what if it's used for a magazine cover? Or a billboard? Or posted on a high volume website where 10's of millions of users will see it? There I am, possibly caught in a bad angle, poor lighting, messy hair, ice-cream stained shirt, sweating profusely because it's mid-summer and 105F and a high resolution picture of it is plastered up there for everyone to see and more importantly will see. Sure, if it's used in that way they're supposed to acquire modeling rights to the pic but how do I know if they won't just publish anyway? Maybe it'll be posted to non-profit page that suddenly becomes uber-popular: "mock the sweaty ice-cream eaters website". I'll probably never find out. Either way, the odds are pretty low, but still the mind wonders where the photo ends up and that causes unease.

    Photographers will always make people feel uneasy. For the reason above, but also for the reason that everything you are doing is being recorded. Careful not to itch your nose... it'll look like you're picking it. Careful not to bend over, otherwise he'll shoot an embarrassing pic of your ass sticking out. Careful not to eat that chili dog, he'll snap a shot with sauce all over your lips and you'll look like an idiot. It's like standing in a room where someone stares from 6 inches away non-stop. It's unnerving isn't it? I think too many photographers aren't considerate about these feelings they cause and cop an attitude of "I'll take any damned pic I like and there's nothing you can do about it so screw off" attitude. People just don't want pictures out there used to mock them.

  • by VdG ( 633317 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:36AM (#24615067)

    Oh, and one other thing. Some of it may be deliberate on the part of security services to discourage protesters and other citizens from taking pictures of potentially illegal, unethical or just unflattering activity by police and others. That fear goes back to Rodney King.

  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:36AM (#24615069) Journal
    Indeed. There's a difference between a public space, and public property. A mall is a public space but private property because it is owned by a private company but there is a general right of access to the public. A military base is public property but not a public space because it is owned by the public (via the government) but you can't just wander in there.

    So it's really just about whether there's a general invitation to the public to be there. And by extending this general invitation, the Mall owners should be aware that the place will be treated as a public space (because it is one) and people will assume the same rules apply as in a park.
  • by Thaelon ( 250687 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:46AM (#24615249)

    It's too late to change awareness; the terrorists have won.

    The terrorists have little to do with it. We did this to ourselves in an overreaction to the trivial terrorist threat. Yes it's trivial. You're more likely to commit suicide than die from a terrorist attack. [wikipedia.org] Even lumped together with all other forms of violence it's trivial.

  • Re:policy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RMH101 ( 636144 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:52AM (#24615361)
    So what you're saying is their defence is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_was_only_following_orders [wikipedia.org] "I was only following orders"?
  • by Angostura ( 703910 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:53AM (#24615385)

    One of these things is not like the other.

    *Businesses* allow *customers* access to *their* property on *their* terms. Don't agree? Try pitching a tent in the food court.

    Now try pitching a tent on a Manhattan sidewalk.

    Your point?

  • Re:policy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 15, 2008 @11:02AM (#24615553)

    While I can understand sympathy for the position some security guards may be placed in, they are a few individuals and are, therefore, less important than the rights of the overall group of citizens as a whole. When you fail to assert your rights, you confirm to the people setting policy that they can trample on your rights freely without resistance. Before long, you lose your rights, either officially or by the fact that noone recognizes and stands up for them any longer.

    You don't need to swing your fists about arbitrarily. But, if you choose to do so, are doing so within your legal rights and yet are challenged by a guard, then you really do need to tell them to go take a hike. Otherwise, that right is gone and it's on to the next fruit just a little bit higher on the vine.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 15, 2008 @11:06AM (#24615629)

    It is sad hear that there is such a culture of paranoia in the United States. In free countries, people would be very surprised to experience such obviously irrational behaviour.
    Whenever I have been to America, I have always been shocked by the unquestioning and brainwashed state of ordinary Americans (particularly regarding their own abysmal standard of governance, their ruthless and brutal foreign policy, their abysmal human rights record, and the large number of people afflicted by a shocking brand of unquestioning fundamentalist religiosity). Do most Americans really lack the ability to think critically, or is there some kind of program of doping of the masses?
    Why do Americans always over-react the the most minor situations. I have seen American police commit violent attacks that would be considered headline news in my own country.
    Having seen the standard of US television, and their complete lack of any free/independent media, is hardly comes as a surprise that they have a paranoid, delusional, and totally insular world view. I don't know what education is like over there for ordinary people, but I fear it must be in a very sorry state if we have people running around that will actually assist in enforcing backward policies if petty totalitarians in this unthinking way.

  • Re:Amusing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by steelfood ( 895457 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @11:06AM (#24615647)

    It is indeed a troll. And so is your straw man, punctuated with your own false dichotomy.

    As prior posters have said better than I, GP presents a false dichotomy, a.k.a. FUD. If the government takes pictures to monitor citizens, then it is a police state. If individuals are forbidden to take pictures, then it is a violation of civil rights. The government is not an individual; its powers are far more limited than the powers that individuals wield.

    To address your whine about Google, GP's second point is not complaining about private entities taking pictures. GP specifically says "Police State" which refers to government. Furthermore, it has already been established that Google can take whatever pictures from the public streets that they want to. Nobody disputes that. But if a person walks around taking the same pictures on private time, that person immediately becomes a "person of interest." That is the general complaint.

    Freedom and privacy are one and the same. You cannot have freedom without privacy. Both freedom and privacy refer to the limits of what the government can do to its citizens. This is fairly obvious, and I completely fail to see how any intelligent person could think that freedom and privacy are in opposition in any way.

    Are the intelligent mods all on vacation or something?

  • by QuantumRiff ( 120817 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @11:09AM (#24615687)

    Don't forget my favoritte from growing up. My elementry school teachers taught us that the difference between us and them, was that living in East Germany or Russia, you could hear a knock on your door in the middle of the night, and be sent off to a prison camp in the middle of no-where for no reason and nobody (family included) would know where you were!

    Now its US Law! Your family can be arrested for mentioning that you were taken away by authorities. They can be arrested for calling a lawyer, telling your employer, etc.

  • by speedtux ( 1307149 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @11:10AM (#24615705)

    The museum had a policy of no photographs. This is hardly uncommon: not only do many people find it annoying to stumble over photographers and deal with flashes while they're trying to look at art, but repeated exposure to light flashes can damage art.

    That's a lame excuse; they could simply have a no-flash policy. If they're busy, they could also have a no-tripod policy. But there is no reason to restrict photography itself.

    No, the real reason museums have a "no photographs" policy is because they want to control publication of the art in order to make money from it, and that is not OK. The copyright on the art has, in most cases, expired long ago, and it should be available to the public.

    "No photography" restrictions are reprehensible for an organization whose purpose is to make art accessible to the public.

  • by davolfman ( 1245316 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @11:14AM (#24615755)
    That's how terrorism is supposed to work, duh.
  • It's too late to change awareness; the terrorists have won.

    The terrorists have little to do with it. We did this to ourselves in an overreaction to the trivial terrorist threat. Yes it's trivial. You're more likely to commit suicide than die from a terrorist attack. [wikipedia.org] Even lumped together with all other forms of violence it's trivial.

    Exactly (and I made the same statement on /. on 9/12), but you're just supporting the GP's point: The terrorists have won. We let them.

  • Terrorists winning (Score:5, Insightful)

    by knarfling ( 735361 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @11:18AM (#24615831) Journal

    I remember a couple of episodes of Star Trek DS9 that are relevant. (not sure how many DS9 fans there are left, so bear with me.) During the Dominion War a couple of shape shifters were found on Earth. Everyone started panicking, and even Sisko was afraid his father had been replaced by a Changeling. In order to "protect" Earth, a high StarFleet official arranged for a group of cadets to "attack" Earth in order to "raise awareness" of the Changeling threat. It turns out that there were only a couple of Changelings on Earth, and they were sitting back watching what Earth was doing to itself.

    One of the things that struck me was that Sisko's father refused to give in to fear. Yes, there was a threat, but there was little he could do, and he refused to live in fear.

    I didn't like all of DS9, and there were a few episodes with crappy writing (I will leave it to you to figure out the number), but I was impressed with these episodes. Shortly after 9/11 I thought, and still do think, that many people, especially in government, should have a look at these couple of episodes before panicking and imposing some of the security restrictions we have had to, and will continue to endure.

  • by Zatar ( 131299 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @11:24AM (#24615925)

    Uh, yeah, that's how terrorism works - they create terror which leads the victims to act in ways that are in the interests of the terrorists rather than the victims.

    9/11 was the most successful terrorist attack ever not because they took down the towers but because America is turning itself into a police state and starting wars and destroying our economy because of the attacks. Hence "the terrorists have won" in the sense that we are voluntarily doing their wishes.

  • Trivial (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DesScorp ( 410532 ) <DesScorp@noSpAM.Gmail.com> on Friday August 15, 2008 @11:43AM (#24616245) Homepage Journal

    It's too late to change awareness; the terrorists have won.

    The terrorists have little to do with it. We did this to ourselves in an overreaction to the trivial terrorist threat. Yes it's trivial. You're more likely to commit suicide than die from a terrorist attack. [wikipedia.org] Even lumped together with all other forms of violence it's trivial.

    Just because it's rare compared to, say, dying in a car accident doesn't make it trivial, anymore than Pearl Harbor was trivial. How many people in Nebraska or Kentucky were in danger from the Japanese fleet?

    I'll agree we've overreacted some domestically, but we were attacked, and the attackers swore to keep going until they got what they wanted... which basically includes things like compulsory kneeling to Mecca five times a day, and taking away your right to post asshat comments on Slashdot.

    And you can't blame it all on the war. Some of this stuff was inevitable in any case. If Osama Bind Laden had never ordered an attack on New York, we'd still have domestic bad guys doing everything from blowing up Federal buildings, to ever sophisticated robbery schemes. The increasingly cheap and advanced technologies available to everyone... including nutbags and criminals... only enhances our natural fear of them. And the era of Big Brother was coming long before the Twin Towers were brought down. After all, Orwell saw this back in the late 40's. Technology itself also guaranteed that. Cities were talking about things like red light cameras long before 2001.

    Much of this stuff was coming anyway. It's just convenient to blame it on 9/11.

  • Security guards on private property only have you the power to leave and, if you refuse, escort you from the premises.

    Not even that. They have no power to MAKE you leave. They can ask you to, and can walk out with you, but if you refuse, they can't physically restrain you. They can call the police and have you cited for trespassing, and the police can make you leave. Whether or not you actually are trespassing depends on the details of local law, and what exactly you're doing.

  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @12:04PM (#24616607) Homepage

    Our economy is/was built on a house of cards. That part didn't need any help from terrorism.

  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @12:07PM (#24616663) Homepage

    You probably wouldn't even notice.

    If they are actually harrassing you or otherwise engaging
    in behavior that can be characterized as "stalking" then
    there are laws that handle that.

    2 ships passing in the night (er mall)?...

    Get a grip.

  • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @12:12PM (#24616735)
    What if you are an artist, and you are trying to get a photograph of someone who is completely unaware that they are in a picture? People often behave differently when they know there is a camera pointed at them, and some artists might want to capture their "natural" behavior. It might seem creepy at first glance, but really there isn't anything specifically wrong with it.
  • by jkerman ( 74317 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @12:15PM (#24616773)

    And dont ever forget it. 5th amendment rights are designed to protect the /innocent/ from bullshit like this.

    People always assume its only for guilty people, when it was in fact designed for innocent people from day 1.

  • by Charcharodon ( 611187 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @12:26PM (#24616949)
    Also keep in mind that the law is not clear on photographs where the subject of the picture is on private property but the photographer was standing on public ground.

    Wrong! You take pictures of anything you want, of anyone you want, as long as their is no expectation of privacy. Bedrooms, bathrooms, etc have an expectation of privacy, while on the other hand your backyard, garage, front door, tree house, etc do not.

    The are other laws that can come into play such as anti-loitering, obstruction of traffic, etc that can prevent some methods of photography, but not all.

  • Re:Trivial (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ChromaticDragon ( 1034458 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @12:30PM (#24616995)

    You cannot compare Pearl Harbor to the destruction of the Twin Towers unless you are so one-dimensional that body count is the only thing you think matters. I'll grant you it indeed may be the only thing for the purposes of cute statistics about your probabilistic chance of committing suicide. (That's a random thing? Better get some suicide insurance).

    However, the point that the direct impact of terrorism is trivial should not be so easily dismissed. Pearl Harbor wasn't terrorism. It was one part of a much larger scheme of the Japanese which was almost perfectly executed to grant Japan nearly complete control of the entire Pacific Ocean in just a day or two. This was not trivial. The impact on many levels was profound and direct yes even to those in the heartland.

    Although it may be crass to call 9/11 "trivial", it was much more so than Pearl Harbor unless you lived in greater NYC. Who were these attackers who swore to strive towards forced compliance to Islam and the removal of free press? I seem to have missed that part. I seem to recall it being rather dubious who actually did it, why and what their intentions were. Furthermore, who cares what they want to do! Do they (whoever they may be) have the power to do anything? They cannot do that by knocking down buildings. That's why we need intelligent responses rather than goofy things like worrying about everyone with a camera.

    However, sadly one could make another comparison regarding our internment of Japanese-Americans that would suggest our incredibly foolish, irrational, slavishly fearful and horribly impotent responses to 9/11 are indeed rather "normal" given human history.

    Usually these are just "phases" and given a few years we'll get over it. I fear our politicians love for fear mongering and the never-ending use of the terminology of "War on Terror" is seriously delaying that. And in that regard your comments regarding Orwell do indeed seem chillingly apropos.

  • by tenton ( 181778 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @12:30PM (#24616997)

    Of course, the really stupid thing is, if there was some sort of reason why a terrorist is taking pictures of a mall (for some plan), they wouldn't be using a DSLR, as it draws too much attention in the first place. They'd be using a cell phone camera or a small point and shoot, because it's inconspicuous. You don't want to draw attention to yourself if you're planning something. The lone dude with a DSLR is going to be the most harmless person, because he's already attracting so much attention on his own (because he sticks out from the crowd).

  • by urcreepyneighbor ( 1171755 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @12:36PM (#24617131)

    Okay, you may well be correct, but you're only going to escalate the situation.

    Be nice to Master and he won't beat you so hard, eh?

  • Re:Trivial (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Duradin ( 1261418 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @12:43PM (#24617241)

    Pearl Harbor was an act of war by an actual official country. It was part of continued efforts by Japan to wage war on our country. Real war. Not this diluted down "war on [drugs|terror|crime]".

    Real state actors with the resources to launch and sustain military actions on foreign territory.

    9/11 only has the surprise factor in similarity to Pearl Harbor. Well and the fact it woke the sleeping giant. Though we were still pretty groggy this time around.

    9/11 happened once. *poof* done. There's no sustained offensive. We aren't fighting to take back Manhattan.

    Really, and this is what "they" don't want you to realize, is that OBL and crew just aren't relevant here.

  • by kvezach ( 1199717 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @12:49PM (#24617359)
    You're not supposed to think about that. You're supposed to just hear "terrorist" and then say "okay, I'll acquiesce", no thought required.
  • by poetmatt ( 793785 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @12:54PM (#24617417) Journal

    Man, people really know nothing about Israel.

    Most people in Israel carry firearms, security personnel or not. Oh I don't know, maybe because it's mandatory for 2 years for women and 3 years for me to serve in the military?

    Anyway, in Israel, people do have first amendment equivalent rights (even Israeli citizens). They cannot and will not shoot at you unless it is absolutely necessary. If you want to see the country explode into a big political situation then wait for the first time you hear of a security guard shooting people for taking pictures. Guess how often that will happen? I can give you the number of times right now, and with certainty: zero. It will never happen.

    I have taken pictures inside military bases that I have been to in Israel, and not only that but with the commanding officers smiling and in the pictures. I could have taken pictures of instrument panels inside APCs and missile defense vehicles (I forgot the accurate term/name) and it would likely have gotten the officers jailed themselves for allowing it, but it would not have affected me in any way. In fact, I didn't do it as a matter of politeness to them but there was nothing stopping me as I had been allowed to enter the base in the first place.

    Just because people have guns, doesn't mean they're stupid. That's just a common redneck/southerner thing in the United States alone.

  • stop it! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by commodoresloat ( 172735 ) * on Friday August 15, 2008 @01:04PM (#24617571)

    Please stop with this "the terrorists have won" crap. Once we say the terrorists have won, the terrorists have won.

  • by Slashdot Parent ( 995749 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @01:07PM (#24617641)

    Under the law I would have no "right" to stop this person from taking this picture or others like it, I would have no right to force the destruction of this picture--the best I could do would be to prevent future pictures by blocking the shots or by leaving.

    Actually, in many jurisdictions upskirt photography is specifically illegal without permission. In other jurisdictions, it would depend on whether a court of law decides that a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy up her (or his, I suppose) skirt. In the case of your daughter, local laws might even deem such photos to be child pornography since the photos are probably intended to arouse.

    Though I'm curious at exactly what punishment I would receive by a jury if I assaulted a person who was doing this, would they dismiss the charge against me because they believed that it was justified?

    It would depend on state/local laws, the extent to which you assaulted the photographer, and of course, the individual jury.

    When you observe a crime being committed, it is almost always preferable to summon the police rather than to apply vigilante-style "justice". Even if you could rely upon a "think of the children" jury finding you not guilty of this assault, and I'm not saying you can rely upon that, you would still go through considerable monetary and emotional expense mounting a defense.

  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan ( 730745 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @02:01PM (#24618551)

    I'm a photographer. I own $2000 telephoto lenses, lots of gear etc etc... There is a discrimination against photographers. I shoot studio photography mainly but i always fear that if i take good gear somewhere, that i wont be let in.

    The common example is any sport event. Baseball, Football, Tennis etc. They all tend to have a lense length rule. If your camera looks professional, then you must be a processional. So they cant risk you snapping off pictures of their sport without authorization. I kind of understand this... but at the same time, anyone bringing a point and shoot $300 camera to baseball game, isnt going to get a picture of anything.

    Its quite unfair that these camera companies are producing very nice digital SLRS... even entry level models for people to learn with, and they cant use them anywhere.

    The irony is that Canon advertises after every dam football game that "Canon is the official camera of the NFL", while the people they're advertising to cant bring those same canon cameras and lenses to a game if they sit in the stands.

    Photographers are a threat to freedom, as we're denied freedom.

    I tend to side against the "fleas" who snap celeb pictures in private settings. I find it distasteful and insulting. I would be furious if i were being stalked by photographers all day. But in public... fair is fair. And then theres the otherside of it that is complete bullshit, staged publicity... And its usually the photogs are the ones who are still blaimed, despite it being a staged pr stunt.

    A publicly funded museum should be fair grounds to shoot. Cameras are not a threat to security. The museum is just concerned that you will photograph their art and post it on a website. They're afraid of losing patronage.

    This whole terrorism shit has to stop. Its just so bad for the health of our country. It almost makes me think the government planned 9/11t, just to get more power over us. I know thats silly but... it sure does seem like the government loves to take away our freedoms.

  • Re:policy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by IronChef ( 164482 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @02:20PM (#24618919)

    But if the security guard is NOT being an asshole about it, maybe you should take it up with the people setting the policy, not the guard. Do you absolutely have to take that picture?

    That attitude is just strengthening the "chilling effect" that results when things which are not laws are enforced as if they were.

    We will all be better off if, in that position, we wielded our rights under the law and took the picture.

    Be decent to the guard, even if he is being a jerk, of course. But don't sacrifice your rights for the sake of his job.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 15, 2008 @02:34PM (#24619173)

    Selling a picture to a newspaper _IS_ commercial.

  • by David_W ( 35680 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @02:37PM (#24619243)

    I only saw DS9 after 9/11. I remember that part and thought it was surprisingly prophetic given the events that had happened between when it originally was filmed and when I got to set it.

  • Re:stop it! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by quacking duck ( 607555 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @02:54PM (#24619503)

    Please stop with this "the terrorists have won" crap. Once we say the terrorists have won, the terrorists have won.

    I remember a large banner unfurled on the island of an aircraft carrier saying "Mission Accomplished."

    Saying so didn't make that true, either.

  • Re:stop it! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jc42 ( 318812 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @03:21PM (#24619903) Homepage Journal

    Please stop with this "the terrorists have won" crap.

    Indeed. It isn't the terrorists that have won. The winners are the local authoritarian thug politicians. They've used the traditional approach of invoking scary foreigners to justify "security" measures that are mostly aimed at controlling their own population. It's an old story. How many actual terrorists have the current measures actually convicted? There was the one guy who was hired by al Qaeda as a chauffeur, with no evidence that he ever did anything but drive people and their luggage around. Anyone else?

    And it actually isn't anything new in the US. Look at the 1950s for a lot of good examples. That's when the "Red Scare" was used to justify the HUAC and other measures that were ostensibly aimed at Communists, but were actually aimed at anyone that the authoritarian types didn't like. We actually haven't gotten quite as far into a police state as we were back then. It took a lot of passive resistance, but we (sorta) won that one. We'll see how the current iteration turns out ...

  • Re:Trivial (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bigpat ( 158134 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @04:00PM (#24620469)

    They want us out of Saudi Arabia.

    And for the most part we got out of Saudi Arabia after 9/11 and the Iraq invasion... yet somehow that withdrawal wasn't seen as giving in to terrorism.

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @04:03PM (#24620515) Homepage Journal

    More than that. Congress and the president actively took up the terrorist's cause, complete with a color coded chart telling people how terrified to be!

    If terrorism is the creation of fear amongst a civilian population in order to achieve a political goal, then DHS, DOJ, Congress, and the executive office are all terrorists.

The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. -- Paul Erlich