Friday, March 17, 2006

Subway Shutterbuggin'

After being threatened with a lawsuit, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which runs the NYC subway system, says it will not enforce a ban on underground photography.

The MTA said earlier this month that it would aggressively discourage photography in the subway, because of the threat of terrorism. If you were caught with a camera underground, a cop would come up to you and "suggest" you cease and desist. Of course, terrorists with cameraphones were not accosted, only innocent tourists from Kansas with their little digital point & shoots.

Cops would come up to you in the subway and basically tell you it was illegal to photograph there and please stop. Since they carry guns, it would make sense to comply. Of course, there is no law on the books making photography in the subways illegal. But why argue with a cop?

So now the police department says it will no longer tell people to stop photographing in the subway. But how much do you want to bet someone comes forward three weeks from now and says they were threatened with arrest for photographing in the subway?

Of all the things transit cops have to worry about to keep the subway secure, photography should not be one of them. As I said, a terrorist is not going to be walking around with a Hasselblad taking pictures of trains. They'll most likely have a cameraphone or something smaller (a Minox perhaps, if they're prone to cliches.)

It's good that the police department admits that the ban was ridiculous. Even if it took the threat of a lawsuit to make them realize it.

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