03 July 2007

Restrictions on photography in NYC

The New York City Mayor's office is considering new rules which would require a person to obtain a permit and an insurance policy as a prerequisite to certain kinds of public photography in NYC.

The rule would apply to two or more people taking pictures in one location for more that 30 minutes, and also to someone using a tripod for more that ten minutes (that timeframe includes setting up and dismantling the tripod).

So what about someone taking pictures at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade? That's more than a half-hour, and typically more than one person.

The Mayor's office says that this is not intended to affect tourists and amateur photographers. In fact, the article doesn't say what these rules are intended to accomplish (the article says that the rules are coming from the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting). But I imagine that city officials will try to justify this as an improvement in city security, based on stories of terrorists taking pictures of their intended targets for planning purposes.

Bruce Schneier talks about this kind of thing a lot in his blog. He calls it security theater: doing something which has the appearance of improving security but which actually doesn't accomplish anything except inconvenience the innocent (like having someone make a cursory visual inspection of your car's trunk when you enter an airport--they're paid a wage not to look through your suitcases, just to look at your suitcases).

Refuse to be terrorized.

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