[funsec] Things you can't take pictures of in public

Richard M. Smith rms at bsf-llc.com
Mon Feb 20 04:00:00 PST 2006

Here are some more things that will get you in trouble if you try to take
pictures of them:

  - Surveillance cameras
  - Cops
  - Your neighbor's windows
  - Passport checking stations (I learned this one the hard way)
  - Boston subway trains

Bottom line, just because something is public, it doesn't mean that you can
take its pictures.  Social conventions, regulations, and laws control where
cameras can be used in public.



February 22, 2006
Photographing Airports

Patrick Smith, a former pilot, writes about his experiences --
involving the police -- taking pictures in airports:

    He makes sure to remind me, just as his colleague in New Hampshire
had done, that next time I'd benefit from advance permission, and that
"we live in a different world now." Not to put undue weight on the
cheap prose of patriotic convenience, but few things are more
repellant than that oft- repeated catchphrase. There's something so
pathetically submissive about it -- a sound bite of such defeat and
capitulation. It's also untrue; indeed we find ourselves in an altered
way of life, though not for the reasons our protectors would have us
think. We weren't forced into this by terrorists, we've chosen it.
When it comes to flying, we tend to hold the events of Sept. 11 as the
be-all and end-all of air crimes, conveniently purging our memories of
several decades' worth of bombings and hijackings. The threats and
challenges faced by airports aren't terribly different from what
they've always been. What's different, or "too bad," to quote the New
Hampshire deputy, is our paranoid, overzealous reaction to those
threats, and our amped-up obeisance to authority.

[coderman's note: 'a different world', LOLZ.  glad to know freedom and
liberty is a quaint and deprecated notion. *grin*]


In the world of information security, this would be described as
security by obscurity - trying to turn the public (publicly visible
and viewable areas of an airport) into the private (no, you can't take

To quote Rocky, "that trick never works".

You have to design your security process to include the concept that
anything not private is completely public.

There is no in-between ground, because anything that the public have
access to can be recorded by the public, whether you try to prevent
photographs or not.

Posted by: Alun Jones at February 22, 2006 03:08 PM



"Police directives about what can and can't be photographed are an
abuse of power and should be ignored, Liberty Victoria says.

The civil liberties body made the statement after a report in today's
Age said a member of the Geelong Camera Club received a visit from
police after he photographed gas storage cylinders at the city's Shell
oil refinery.

Police and emergency services minister Tim Holding said it was
important to balance national security and civil liberties.

"It's always about balance, obviously we do live, whether we like it
or not, in a period of heightened security concerns, police have a
vital role to play from a law enforcement perspective in making sure
that we respond appropriately to those heightened security
situations," he said.

"Obviously it (the police response) needs to be proportionate and
appropriate and we don't want to unreasonably interfere with or reduce
the public's access to facilities."
The police have got no place making such warnings," president Brian
Walters SC, said.

"Merely to threaten is exceeding police powers and is an abuse of power.

"If you were a serious terrorist you wouldn't be openly taking
photographs. Taking photos of public objects is a normal and quite
understandable part of a modern society."

Mr Walters said police had been spooked by politicians and had
acquired "an inflated fear of terrorism".

"We currently have thousands of cameras set up to watch citizens, but
if citizens themselves take photos, the authorities take that as some
sort of risk," he said.


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