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Point, click and shoot

If we stop taking pictures, the terrorists will have won: New York City's Transit authority, which operates the city's mass transit, has made a proposal: "a ban on unauthorized photography, filming, and videotaping  city subways, buses and Staten Island Railway trains. The press and businesses or individuals with permits would be exempt."

What possible reason could there be for such a ban? According to the story, the reason is the new all-purpose excuse for every idiotic government proposal:

Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the bombing that killed hundreds on a commuter train in Madrid earlier this year, tighter security has been a high priority, Mr. Seaton said. The other proposed rule changes are also needed, he said.
Ah, yes. Tighter security. Of course. Let me count the ways that this is stupid.
  1. How on earth does this enhance security? One might be able to argue that we don't want people taking pictures in the subway because it could allow terrorists to study the area, see where the guards are, see where bombs could be planted, etc. But how could that possibly apply to buses? And since people can stand around the subway station and observe the security measures firsthand, what good is it going to do to keep them from having photographs? And if the media, "advertisers, artists and others, 'would all be allowed' to take pictures as long as they obtained written permission in advance," then who exactly does that leave out? People who write "To blow it up, praise Allah!" on their permit applications under "Reason"?
  2. Even if it did enhance security, how could this possibly be enforced? Digital cameras are getting smaller and smaller -- this is the era of the camera phone, after all. Is everyone who enters the subway system and/or gets on a bus going to be frisked?
  3. Even if it did enhance security and could be enforced, they're not planning to enforce it. From the article:
    While transit officers would make common-sense judgments about issuing summonses to tourists who take pictures without knowing the rules, even visitors would be subject to fines, Mr. Seaton said, although there is no provision for confiscation of cameras. He said taking a picture or filming without authorization would be subject to a relatively low $25 fine.
Oh, I see: a $25 fine. That changes everything. Maybe the plan is to bankrupt Al Qaeda... . very slowly.

The only thing I can't figure out from this story is whether this proposal comes from some petty bureaucrat who came up with a stupid idea because he likes to throw his weight around (as petty bureaucrats so often do), or whether this is simply a (poorly) disguised fund-raising measure.


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