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January 5th, 2005 · No Comments · NYC, Subway

Once again the MTA is considering banning photography on subways. This is being considering the name of security and fighting terrorist.

I would suggest that if the MTA wants to create policies that make the subways safer, they should ban any parcels, bags or backpacks that are bigger than lunchbox. And perhaps, just to be safe, heavy overcoats as well.

Why the MTA would decide to ignore a real, tangible risk, like a concealed bomb, and instead go for something that is only an indirect risk? Because going after photography is doable, and banning packages is not. And as we know in these post-9/11 times, it’s not about addressing real risks, but making the conspicuous appearance of doing something to “improve” security. That’s why we have Nation Guardsmen in airports with automatic weapons, and unsecured ports.

Here’s a thought, what the hell is the MTA afraid someone is going to get a picture of? If the subway infrastructure is so fragile and exploitable that pictures of it are a risk, may I suggest that we make the infrastructure more secure and robust rather than not letting people take pictures of it? Banning photography is like securing a bank by making the customers close their eyes.

It’s also insanely stupid when you realize that tourism is a huge part of our city. We are going to criminalize photography now? This doesn’t make things feel more secure, it makes things fearful: what the hell is the MTA hiding down there? Even airports don’t ban photography. You can take pictures on an airplane, but not on the E train?

The policy is also technologically naive as well. Cameras are getting smaller, better and integrated into more devices every month. If a terrorist wants to photograph parts of the subway, this ban won’t stop him. All it does is force cops to harass tourists, a stupid idea if there ever was one.

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