The War on Photography: Still Going Strong

It’s been a while since I heard about a photographer being “detained” or otherwise “having their rights violated” for engaging in a little innocent photography, so it’s easy to suppose that conditions have improved from the hyper-paranoid days right after 9/11, when merely carrying a camera in public was enough to get you a 75% discount on a one-way flight to Guantanamo Bay.

Uncle Sam, however, apparently feels differently about this recent complacency towards photographers; Homeland Security recently issued a reminder, warning everyone that while “questionable photography is among the more frequently reported activities” and “suspicious activity reporting such as dubious photography provides valuable information for analysis and further investigation”, it seems that “only a small number of reported suspicious activities actually receive further investigation.”

But… but… you say that like it’s a bad thing!

To be “helpful”, the Department of Homeland Security has compiled a list of “suspicious activities” which deserve further attention. Regrettably, it seems like Uncle Sam is continuing it’s war on urban exploration:

* Recording notes or making drawings at or nearby sensitive areas.
* Using techniques such as doubling back, changing appearance, or driving evasively.
* Taking apparent measurements between entrances, security points, and around a perimeter.
* Trespassing or trying to access sensitive or unauthorized areas.
* Questioning sector personnel about sensitive subjects (e.g., personnel, plans, operations).
* Photographing items with no apparent aesthetic value (e.g., personnel, equipment, systems).
* Capturing pictures of items or at odd times that are inconsistent with being a tourist, artist, etc.
* Wearing clothing, using photo equipment, or behaving in a manner that is inconsistent with the photographer’s explanation.
* Being sly or evasive such as refusing to show pictures taken on a digital camera.
* Returning to the same location to take photos after being instructed not to do so.

Trespassing… accessing unauthorized areas… photographing items with no apparent aesthetic value… being “sly or evasive”, refusing to show pictures taken on a digital camera… taking photos after being instructed not to do so… Hands up, urban explorers: how many of these “suspicious” activities have you engaged in this year?

Yeah, that’s what I was afraid of.

The list, and warning, comes courtesy of DHS’ Emergency Management Response – Information Sharing and Analysis Center, a/k/a EMR-ISAC, who put out a weekly newsletter that’s well worth subscribing too; the “suspicious activity” warning was issued earlier this month.

Published in: Geekiness, General, Security, Urban Exploration | on November 25th, 2008| 1 Comment »

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One Comment

  1. On 11/25/2008 at 12:55 pm Thomas Said:

    Man, I’ve been looking for some inspiration in making up some poster art and I think you just nailed it for me. Thanks!

    I envision someone in a Santa suit with a digital camera trying to explain themselves to a police officer in a setting that is obviously not winter or christmas related for the 8th one.