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Airstrip One
April 16, 2009 11:55 AM   Subscribe

London police are now deleting tourists' photos because "photographing anything to do with transport is strictly forbidden."
posted by plexi (85 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
In accordance with LU company regulations, the following activities are not allowed to be filmed or photographed:

* Vandalism or graffiti
* Assaults on passengers or staff
* Fare evasion or ticket touting
* Use of firearms or weapons
* Misuse of escalators or LU property
* Unlicensed busking
* Begging
* Smoking or the use of illegal drugs
* Behaving in an overtly sexual or indecent manner (including nudity)
* Direct threats (including terrorist) to LU, its staff or passengers
* Anything that may negatively affect the interests of the site owner
posted by blue_beetle at 11:58 AM on April 16, 2009


It is also against the law in Britain to let people know what your abbreviations or acronyms mean.
posted by srboisvert at 12:01 PM on April 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


I was just in London. I love all the creepy, "Narc on your Neighbour" posters up in the tube. That country loves its fascism. Alan Moore totally has its number.

That said, I took a shit load of photos, and no one gave me grief.
posted by chunking express at 12:01 PM on April 16, 2009


The regulations you linked to about photography and film are to do with the underground. These tourists were stopped while taking fotos of a bus station.

Oh, and the policeman broke the law in stupidly-timed way.
posted by Sova at 12:01 PM on April 16, 2009


"There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no art, no literature, no science. When we are omnipotent there will be no need of science. There will be no distinction between beauty and ugliness. There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed." - 1984
posted by tommasz at 12:01 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


@srboisvert
In case that wasn't snark for its own sake, LU = London Underground. Or the subway, if you prefer.
posted by CRM114 at 12:03 PM on April 16, 2009


Congrats on the second WIBBLE WIBBLE OMGZ 1984! title in two days.
posted by Sova at 12:05 PM on April 16, 2009


My dad is notorious for taking photos or all manner of transportation, and my parents are headed to London tonight for vacation. I will forward this along!
posted by amro at 12:05 PM on April 16, 2009


amro, I took lots of photos on the tube. I had a point and shoot camera and an old rangefinder. I think it's probably more about bad luck than anything else if the police give you shit.
posted by chunking express at 12:08 PM on April 16, 2009


The London Underground is not a political movement.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 12:10 PM on April 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


Unlicensed busking is a cancer on civilized societies everywhere. And as for those scum who actually have the fucking chutzpah to film and/or photograph it? Hanging's too good for 'em.
posted by ob at 12:18 PM on April 16, 2009


The only part that Orwell missed was that the decent into total fascism would be accompanied by people saying "stop comparing this to Orwell's 1984". Not such a sharp tack that Orwell.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 12:23 PM on April 16, 2009 [33 favorites]


I shot some video in the London Underground, first at one station, then at another. At the second station I was stopped by an official who came down the stairs and directly to me. He mentioned that I'd been seen filming at the other station.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:25 PM on April 16, 2009


I hate the damned police. That said, photos on the Tube have never been allowed, and in the current climate people should know better than to try their luck. This guy was just unlucky to have run into the self-important type of cops with nothing better to do that day that give the whole bunch of them a bad name.
posted by different at 12:25 PM on April 16, 2009


Let's make this easy for some people:

"In Soviet Union _________ delete you!"
posted by spicynuts at 12:27 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I had a point and shoot camera and an old rangefinder. I think it's probably more about bad luck than anything else if the police give you shit.

After being stopped using a professional-looking camera, I switched to a handycam and adopted a more casual stance, and I wasn't stopped again.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:30 PM on April 16, 2009


So the authorities are free to film as many people as possible almost everywhere with the CCTV systems, and in turn, the people are in trouble if they take any photo almost everywhere.

The UK has really been weirdly uptight over the last decade about personal freedoms, to say the least.
posted by Paid In Full at 12:30 PM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


That said, photos on the Tube have never been allowed, and in the current climate people should know better than to try their luck.

He wasn't in the tube. He was out on a public street, taking pictures of a bus station.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:31 PM on April 16, 2009


StickyCarpet, that seems to be the trick in DC, too. Millions of tourists with point-and-shoots? No problem. One guy with a tripod? TERRORIST!!!
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:33 PM on April 16, 2009


From my British husband (who said "scaremongering idiots" when I sent him this thread):

"Photos on the tube are illegal because flashes fuck with the automatic fire detection equipment"

Is this true?
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 12:34 PM on April 16, 2009


We need a volunteer to dress up in a hijab and go down in the underground to slowly sketch everything.
posted by ColdChef at 12:36 PM on April 16, 2009 [21 favorites]


The London Underground is not a political movement.

Not one that you know about.
posted by Edwahd at 12:37 PM on April 16, 2009


UK Photographers: Know your rights
posted by ColdChef at 12:41 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


For US examples, see NYC Photo Rights and Phoenix police harass photographer under Homeland Security pretense.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:44 PM on April 16, 2009


* Unlicensed busking

Heck yeah! That sounds kinky and hot! Damn the Man, I'm certain I'm gonna want to photograph whatever that is...

*looks up "busking"*

Awww, street performers? Nevermind...
posted by quin at 12:45 PM on April 16, 2009


We need a volunteer to dress up in a hijab and go down in the underground to slowly sketch everything.

And if that causes any problem then obviously remembering what you saw when you were down there must be forbidden, too. Fortunately, we are developing the technology to address this last part.
posted by yhbc at 12:46 PM on April 16, 2009


The only part that Orwell missed was that the decent into total fascism would be accompanied by people saying "stop comparing this to Orwell's 1984". Not such a sharp tack that Orwell.

Yah, you ever read his 'Politics and the English Language'? Especially the bit where he warns against using tired and worn out phrases? Well, 1984 was a good book, but the words '1984', 'Big Brother', etc etc are looking pretty fucking tired right now. They add nothing to the discussion except to pavlov certain reactions from the more thoughtless participants.


So the authorities are free to film as many people as possible almost everywhere with the CCTV systems...

Are they? I mean, most CCTV isn't owned by 'THE AUTHORITIES', and there probably isn't as much of it as some people like to mindlessly make out. Oh, and 'almost everywhere'? Like my kitchen? or my bedroom? Or does 'almost anywhere' actually only extend to public places and government owned buildings? Hmmm...

...and in turn, the people are in trouble if they take any photo almost everywhere.

The police are the ones in trouble. The officer broke the law, this is clear and obvious. Citizens have the (almost complete) right to film and photograph anywhere in public.


From my British husband (who said "scaremongering idiots" when I sent him this thread):

"Photos on the tube are illegal because flashes fuck with the automatic fire detection equipment"

Is this true?


Wikipedia says the same thing, but I don't personally know.
posted by Sova at 12:46 PM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


In 2007 I got stopped by the police in Munich, and they demanded to see my digital photos. Turned out the park I had just come from was right next door to the American Embassy. I must have looked suspicious waiting around for two hours for my girlfriend to return from a museum, as all I did was walk up and down the river taking photos endlessly. The police who stopped me had trouble speaking English, so things were pretty tense for awhile. When I eventually figured out why they were interested in me, all I had to say was 'Fucking Americans, always paranoid!" and the police were suddenly laughing and agreeing with me.

(no offense intended to all the Americans here)
posted by mannequito at 12:49 PM on April 16, 2009


I had my own run-in with this kind of thing in America. In the middle of Missouri of all places. I was working on a lighting upgrade for a university hospital. Naturally, I called ahead and got clearance from the hospital before I went and took photographs of the building, but I was still stopped by a police officer. I explained what I was doing, and gave him my credentials and my contact at the hospital's name. He told me that although I was clearly photographing the university hospital, the parking lot I was standing on belonged to the veteran's hospital next door. This was federal property, making what I was doing a violation of the Patriot Act. I then had to accompany him to a near-by police station where he tried to call my contact at the hospital who, as it turned out, was at lunch. So I sat in the station watching talk shows and drinking coffee with the police until they finally got a hold of my contact hours later. I was cleared, they released me, and by the time I got back to the hospital, it was too dark to take pictures.
posted by Thin Lizzy at 12:50 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's just bad luck. And it's been this way since 9/11. Some cop or security guard decides that the law *must surely* prohibit taking photos of certain things. They are almost always wrong. That doesn't mean they won't be happy to escalate things if you try to explain the *real* law of course.
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:56 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hmmnn reminds me of the time I was in East Germany. You remember East Germany, it was one of the countries of the former Soviet Bloc, it was also behind about 300 yards of barbed wire, land mines, automated machine guns, and soldiers trained to shoot first and ask questions later. While I was there I spied an abandoned subway station right in the middle of the wall zone. So naturally I walked right past the signs in 6 languages warning about the dangers of such efforts, and took some tourist snaps of the abandoned station. No less than three minutes later I was surrounded by 6 VoPos with machine guns, demanding my camera, passport, and telling me I was a spy for Time Magazine. After 45 minutes and a pair of soiled underwear I convinced them that I had only taken a few snaps, and would hate to lose the other pictures of their great country. This was on film, so I convinced them that merely opening the camera would flash the film and ruin the most recent pix, which of course it did...Meanwhile my companion had managed to rewind most of the film back into the safety of the film cassette, so he lost earlier pix, but not the subway pix.
posted by Gungho at 12:58 PM on April 16, 2009


Liberty Central advises you of what to do when the man stops you. A handy little card.
posted by adamvasco at 1:00 PM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Photos on the tube are illegal because flashes fuck with the automatic fire detection equipment"

Recently they've been playing recorded messages on the underground platforms telling people not to use flashes. I assumed it was cause they could distract the drivers.
posted by permafrost at 1:15 PM on April 16, 2009


So the authorities are free to film as many people as possible almost everywhere with the CCTV systems, and in turn, the people are in trouble if they take any photo almost everywhere.
I think now is the time for everyone to take pictures of cops. Lots of them.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:15 PM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Um, I don't recommend carrying around a little card that threatens to waste a police officer's time here in the U.S. Cops get paid overtime to go to court. They love going to court. They look for reasons to go to court. And win or lose, they get paid.
posted by Xoebe at 1:15 PM on April 16, 2009


He was actually stopped while taking pictures of a bus (see the last letter on that page), in Walthamstow . He also had pictures of the Vauxhall bus station, but that wasn't where they caught him.
posted by Infinite Jest at 1:20 PM on April 16, 2009


Not such a sharp tack that Orwell.

Yeah, well 'e was a Brit, wun'e?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:20 PM on April 16, 2009


General traveller advice the world over is to avoid / be careful of taking pictures of govt. buildings, transport, armed forces locations, police etc. Considering recent successful and foiled terrorist attempts on the London Transport network I can see why security types would be extra cautious. If something happens on their watch then they get nailed to a tree and so forth.

Maybe this is the sound of the terrorists winning?
posted by i_cola at 1:21 PM on April 16, 2009


People who are upset by this: Do not ever go to Boston.
posted by Artw at 1:27 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I hate the damned police. That said, photos on the Tube have never been allowed...."

Photos ARE allowed in / on / around the tube - and all rail stations in the whole country.

Just don't use a flash. Use of tripods has to be cleared in advance with London Underground, and in the case of railway stations, I suppose with the station authorities.

See here and here for more. At the end of that last link, the police themselves say it's ok to take photos.

The problem here is that individual officers aren't that well trained on policy. Please, everyone, come take lots of lovely photos. It's fine.
posted by paperpete at 1:33 PM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


I wonder how they would cope if a flashmob of photographers all decided to report themselves at the same time? "Yes officer they are in front of Buckingham palace right now with some kind of camera."
posted by Lanark at 1:36 PM on April 16, 2009


So the authorities are free to film as many people as possible almost everywhere with the CCTV systems

Yeah, except when you need that CCTV footage to defend yourself/prosecute police misconduct. Then the tapes suddenly go "missing" for no good reason. Fucking police.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:40 PM on April 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


So...if you've never read 1984 a close reading of this thread and the accompanying articles will leave you under the impression that it a novel with a terrifying vision of a future in which some individual policeman don't fully understand the law. The law which, in fact, leaves citizens and tourists free to photograph pretty much anything they want to. Hard to understand why there's so much fuss about this book, eh?
posted by yoink at 1:48 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Those police ALSO HAVE TRAFFIC CAMERAS.
posted by Artw at 1:49 PM on April 16, 2009


"Photos on the tube are illegal because flashes fuck with the automatic fire detection equipment"

My guess is that they have equipment watching for electrical arcs and other intense, brief flashes of light as an indicator of a potential problem.

If so, a strobe would probably raise a red flag.

Difficult to imagine they don't have other, potentially better, methods for doing the same thing which wouldn't be affected by strobes, though. Does the New York subway prohibit flash photography? How about the Paris subway?

If not, then maybe the LU is running a lucrative side business selling f1 Noctilux lenses?
posted by Kikkoman at 2:08 PM on April 16, 2009


why doesn't the police chief (or whatever) just send out a simple memo saying, "people can take pictures. stop being a bunch of twats about it." is it really that hard?
posted by klanawa at 2:11 PM on April 16, 2009


Welcome to the information age, where truthiness and its half brother unlegalness reign supreme.

I should add at this point that the tabloid newspapers are particularly guilty - often in the very same editions that they run topless pictures of teenagers - of stoking a fear of paedophiles lurking at every school gate. Or muslims. Or paedophile muslims.

And then the police: the irony in the UK is that we actually have a couple of primetime shows following police round while they arrest spotty young herberts by the roadside and when one of them objects to being filmed they are told, by the police, that it is perfectly legal to film what they choose while they do so from public land.

The police know photographers' rights. They just don't much care for them and also know that detaining someone for an hour or so is hugely inconvenient for the photographer but just part of a paid working day for the policeman.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:11 PM on April 16, 2009


Yeah, bollocks.

I don't live in London (far too sensible for that - I'm in Manchester), but I'll carry on taking photos of whatever I please, wherever I please.
posted by idiomatika at 2:13 PM on April 16, 2009


I should add at this point that the tabloid newspapers are particularly guilty - often in the very same editions that they run topless pictures of teenagers - of stoking a fear of paedophiles lurking at every school gate. Or muslims. Or paedophile muslims.


That is why we must confuse them by bombarding the tabloids with letters from illegal immigrants, attacking paedophiles; and letters from paedophiles, attacking illegal immigrants. And possibly Muslims attacking both paedophiles and illegal immigrants.

I wonder if /b/ would be interested?
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:14 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


UK Photographers: Know your rights

All three of 'em!
posted by scody at 2:27 PM on April 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


I can confirm both:
1) You're allowed to take photos anywhere on the Underground network and pretty much anywhere else in London. The exception is flash photography on the Tube: I've heard the "fire detection" explanation before, but I've also heard a Tube driver saying that they simply don't enjoy being flash-blinded as they're pulling into a station.

2) Remarkably few security guards and police in London believe point 1. There have been a lot of cases recently where people have been forced to delete photos, had memory cards confiscated or just told to bugger off under the pretext of completely imaginary anti-terror laws.

I know we're all getting tired of "OMG 1984" posts, but the sad fact is that they really do have a point. British people have lost a lot of rights over the past few years, and the anti-terror laws give extremely broad and poorly delimited power to the police and various arms of govt.
posted by metaBugs at 2:33 PM on April 16, 2009


Last year I got stopped by the police (this was outside London) and had my name checked for taking a photograph of dew covered cobwebs on a hedge as it was 'peoples' property' and a long way from where I lived (I was making my bi-annual 3 week camel trek to a NHS dentist but that's another story)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:47 PM on April 16, 2009


Shortly after 9/11 I was in Copenhagen on a vacation with a friend. We ended up wandering through the Kastellet, a beautiful fortification that still houses some portion of Denmark's ministry of defense. I took several photos of the very scenic buildings. As we were walking up one of the walls we were stopped by a uniformed man who came running at us carrying a rather nasty-looking gun. I assumed we were going to be in a rather large amount of trouble for something, but couldn't think of what it might be (not realizing it was anything other than a historic park at the time). After hearing we were American tourists we were sent on our way with a merry "Enjoy your vacation". I think I vastly prefer the Danish attitude to photographers...
posted by combinatorial explosion at 3:03 PM on April 16, 2009


I know we're all getting tired of "OMG 1984" posts, but the sad fact is that they really do have a point. British people have lost a lot of rights over the past few years, and the anti-terror laws give extremely broad and poorly delimited power to the police and various arms of govt.

No, I agree completely. I think the recent incidents of police overstepping their powers with violence, heavyhandedness, and prohibition of photography are a consequence of certain political trends. Likewise the identity database, identity cards, and internet profiling are all potentially worrying. However, the use of Orwell cliches and scary quotes is unhelpful, and in the case of the overfocus on CCTV, nothing more than a diversion. Titling this post 'Airstrip One' is just ringing a bell.
posted by Sova at 3:27 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


These kind of stories make me nervous, because I like to take pictures of many things including what might be considered "transportation infrastructure".

But so far I have not actually had any problems with the police or security guards. There was one time I was in a parking lot near the airport, taking pictures of planes landing, when some security guards rolled up. I thought "uh oh, here we go," but they were just there to take pictures too.

I have also had the police come by when I was parked across from some large "no stopping" signs on a road leading right up to the airport fence. It is a dead end road where lots of people park to watch and take pictures, so it's not like there was any traffic to block. I asked them if the signs applied to both sides of the road or just the side the signs were on. They said "it's technically both, but we don't really enforce it".

I suspect I haven't had any problems since photography at this airport is so popular. Any time I go to the good spots I always encounter other people already there, taking pictures. So maybe the solution isn't to get nervous and take fewer pictures, but for everybody to start taking a lot more of them? A way of tackling the "lack of training" issue from the outside, perhaps?
posted by FishBike at 3:33 PM on April 16, 2009


I'm not scared.

Vauxhall Bus Station

Take that, fascist coppers! At long last, my anti-establishment credentials proven.
posted by calico at 3:44 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just to add to what paperpete says: non-commercial photography is definitely allowed on the tube: I have hundreds of photos on Flickr (and who knows how many on hard drives) that prove otherwise. The link quoted above is for professional photography. There's a discussion on this London Underground forum which is about as close to an official line as it seems possible to get.

As a couple of people have said, using flash is a no-no, mainly because train drivers get dark adapted vision in the tunnels and it's bad enough coming into a station without a tourist then setting off a flashgun in your face. Personally, I'd also note that if flash photography is explicitly forbidden, then non-flash photography is implicitly allowed. Similarly, tripods are obstructive (apparently).

That said, I've been stopped about, ooh, once every two or three months for taking photos, most recently on New Year's Day when I was using my DSLR to shoot directly upwards at lights at Westminster Station. The station attendant said something along the lines of "don't take photos of the structures, as it looks a bit suspicious. Why not get a permit?" and so for a quiet life I stopped. I've never been asked to delete a photo on the Tube, or at a bus station, or indeed on a bus, train, or train station. (I have been asked to do so by Deutsche Bank's security guards. Bastards.)
posted by blech at 3:45 PM on April 16, 2009


First they came for the tourists photographing places of interest and I did nothing.

Next they came for the people photographing bus stations and I did nothing.

Then they came for the people who take photographs at concerts on mobile phones and I thought "Eh, a fascist state isn't all bad".
posted by panboi at 3:48 PM on April 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Sorry, overcome with giddiness because I had a picture of the bus station. I did actually mean to agree that this doesn't seem to be a policy problem as much as a problem with one police officer. Which is not to say that there aren't problems with the law relating to photography, but banning all pictures of 'transport' is not one of them.

I've always thought that the ban on flashes was, as blech and others say, because of drivers' vision being adapted to the dark. I've heard drivers give sarcastic lectures on this topic over the tannoy, so it would seem to make sense.

Tripods - yeah. It's a pain, because underground stations are quite dark and you can't use a flash, but then if you did allow it you can bet that someone would try to set up their tripod on the one entry to the platform on the district line at Victoria at 5.30pm and would get upset about being asked not to. So I can see the point.
posted by calico at 3:55 PM on April 16, 2009


When the LU regulations about photography first turned up, more than a year ago, a friend and myself got hold of the LU press office to ask whether, as the wording seemed to say, all photography needed a permit And if so, what did that mean for tourists?

This question seemed to take them by surprise - at first, they denied that any regulations like that existed, but we pointed them at their own web site. They promised to look into it, and went away.

They came back and said "No, this doesn't apply to amateur photographers or tourists." We said that in that case, it would be a jolly good idea to say so, right next to where it appears to say otherwise. They agreed.

Obviously, that got no further. I wouldn't like to say whether the powers that be like the ambiguity to continue, so policemen can continue to demand photographs be deleted while making it difficult to argue against it, or whether it's just inefficiency at work. Nonetheless, you are allowed to take photographs of London Transport stuff (within the 'no flash, no tripod' rules, which are sensible), although apparently they want you to think otherwise and some policemen believe they can force you to stop.

(But not all. I have had a very pissed-off plod ask me forcefully to stop photographing, but admitting that he couldn't stop me. I stopped anyway, because he was clearly having a very bad day and there was no reason why I should be adding to it. Had there been, then I would have carried on)
posted by Devonian at 4:50 PM on April 16, 2009


If only there was a number to call to receive assistance and report abusive police officers. Like 999 but... ahh, cock.

No really, if only there was a number. Like a hotline to a bank of super lawyers; there to protect the right's of the public, whenever and wherever.
posted by run"monty at 4:55 PM on April 16, 2009


...and to come down hard on all uses of erroneous apostrophes.
posted by run"monty at 5:02 PM on April 16, 2009


posted by run"monty No really, if only there was a number. Like a hotline to a bank of super lawyers; there to protect the right's of the public, whenever and wherever.

Right here.
posted by mattdidthat at 5:05 PM on April 16, 2009


...all I had to say was 'Fucking Americans, always paranoid!" and the police were suddenly laughing and agreeing with me.

The American Embassy in Ottawa is, bit by bit, swallowing all the neighbouring streets with increasingly large blockades. Pretty annoying.

Also, DEAR COPS THE WORLD OVER: Stop going on power trips over cameras. Kthx.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 5:10 PM on April 16, 2009


Similarly, tripods are obstructive (apparently).

But not monopods. So, flash off and use a monopod, should be all clear.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:12 PM on April 16, 2009


The American Embassy in Ottawa is, bit by bit, swallowing all the neighbouring streets with increasingly large blockades. Pretty annoying.

Yeah, but the joke's on them, because they're in Ottawa.
posted by oaf at 5:25 PM on April 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


"However, the use of Orwell cliches and scary quotes is unhelpful,"

True. This is much more Brave New World:
"'And that,' put in the Director sententiously, "that is the secret of happiness and virtue-liking what you've got to do. All conditioning aims at that: making people like their inescapable social destiny.' "
"The Gods are just. No doubt. But their code of law is dictated, in the last resort, by the people who organize society; providence takes its cue from men."
posted by Smedleyman at 5:32 PM on April 16, 2009


PFAH!

Seriously, do the people who make these regulations just not have very much experience with reality?
posted by tehloki at 5:35 PM on April 16, 2009


Fire alarm equipment set off by a flash? Nope, not the case. Not one bit of it.
posted by criticalbill at 6:42 PM on April 16, 2009


Terrorists are not photographers.

Even if they were, there's a lot more to blowing something up than taking pics of it first.

Get a grip already.
posted by bwg at 6:48 PM on April 16, 2009


Artw: I've never had a problem in Boston proper, but the greater Boston area... yeah.

I was stopped in the Providence Amtrak station for taking a picture of the train tracks. The police took my camera and were a bit confused as to what to do with it - this was a point-and-shoot, nothing even remotely fancy. They questioned me quite a bit about my choice of subjects - for instance, why had I taken a picture of a blue motorcycle (they were quite confused by my answer: "I liked the color."). In the end, they decided against confiscating the camera and just demanded I delete (in front of them) the pictures of the station.

OTOH, I've taken assthousand pictures inside the T in Boston and no one has ever stopped me for it.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:09 PM on April 16, 2009


You know, with things like this, things like the torture becoming a commonplace notion, things like 3 strikes laws being proposed to disconnect copyright infringers from the internet, all manner of new hammerblows that seem intended to keep the populace cowed and compliant (even if assigning intentionality smacks of tinfoilhat conspiracy foolishness), I get an image in my mind of a pupa in the chrysalis. It struggles and writhes, and its case stretches and deforms for a long time before it opens. Eventually, something entirely different emerges.

I wonder what that thing will be.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:11 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wonder what that thing will be.

Mothra. Big, hungry, and horrifying.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:16 PM on April 16, 2009


Hey, I've heard that some highways in the South-East, at least, have checkpoint stations. "Show me your identification citizen or face arrest." Or tazering. Torture?

Brave New America, that's for sure.

Ah, well, back to television. Colbert Report is on!
posted by five fresh fish at 11:23 PM on April 16, 2009


I'll bet Thomas Hawk is on his way to London after reading this.
posted by Poagao at 12:57 AM on April 17, 2009


Nice to know that somebody thinks the buses of Walthamstow are worth seeing, anyway.
posted by Phanx at 1:40 AM on April 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Check out this link for more work from this evil terrorist network...
posted by gallagho at 4:14 AM on April 17, 2009


Cops have been boarding trains near the Canadian border and demanding ID, too. No one seems to know the authority for this.
And then there's the airport situation where full-body scanners, once voluntary, will apparently become a requirement.
Airport Digital Penetration
posted by etaoin at 5:23 AM on April 17, 2009


I wouldn't worry about Boston. Not a big college town. Not a lot of tourism either.,
posted by Smedleyman at 6:50 AM on April 17, 2009


Just going to throw this out there, for what it's worth... might label me a terrorist, who knows, but there exist certain utilities that can un-delete images on a flash drive once you've deleted them, and quite a few of said utilities are free.

Also, there are cards such as this one that not only save locally, but also broadcast the images to a nearby wireless point. Like, say, the laptop or WiFi-enabled phone you or your nearby friend is holding.

I'm not encouraging clandestine picture taking, I'm just saying that deleting things doesn't necessarily delete them. It is simply a minor and generally temporary annoyance.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:55 AM on April 17, 2009


Totally agree, my Nokia N82 automatically geo-tags photos and uploads them to flickr (in the background) as soon as you take a shot.
posted by gallagho at 7:15 AM on April 17, 2009


I wouldn't worry about Boston. Not a big college town. Not a lot of tourism either.,

My sarcasm meter is in the shop, so I'm just going to stick with "WTF?!"
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:44 AM on April 17, 2009


Sounds like it'll soon be time to open the FEMA "refugee" camps. Gotta process your identity, citizen, before you can go back into society. Maybe chip ya.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:52 AM on April 17, 2009


I plan on taking some photos of police as soon as possible, and then following that up by taking some photos of buses, trains and the Underground if and when I next get down to London.

Pure idiocy. Much like this poster - "A bomb won't go off here because weeks before a shopper reported someone studying the CCTV cameras. Don't rely on others, if you suspect it, report it." I'm tempted to go CCTV camera photographing later...

Add this to the fact that I can't legally do the dissertation research I wanted to do because I'm not legally allowed to have terrorist "manuals", and this state is really rather worrying.
posted by knapah at 10:35 AM on April 17, 2009


One time on the NYC MTA I was getting off the N train at Times Square to catch the shuttle to Grand Central. As I'm walking down the platform, before I get to the stairs, I see a middle eastern guy in traditional garb, bend down on the ground near a column. He's looking at something intently on the ground, which I quickly notice as a tape measure. He finishes measuring the distance between two columns, makes a note in a notebook, and moves on to the next two. Suffice to say the 2 NYPD officers I found at the top of the stairs were interested to meet that guy.
posted by allkindsoftime at 11:41 PM on April 17, 2009


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