December 18th, 2006

Wig Wag

The Right to Bear Cameras

Thanks to Charles Mohapel and to Cheryl for passing this on to me.

Photographer Hassled for Taking Photos on Public Property

While I have never been told, "You're not allowed to take photos here," I know of numerous stories of people (mostly railroad related) being told by various authorities from private security to city police officers being hassled or even arrested for engaging in completely lawful activity. Or at least we think it's lawful. Since 9/11, police have apparently trotted out "it's against the law to shoot photos of any transportation facility," but are unable to cite such laws when pressed. Maybe it's one of the "secret laws" that seem to have proliferated in the wake of the establishment of the Department of Fatherland Security.

I'm glad there are people out there willing to take on Security Culture still. I've taken photos of trains, streetcars, etc., but have never been told it's not allowed. Now, railroads have the right to enforce their property rights. I've walked along the access roads paralleling railroads, and anyone from the railroad could order me off those privately-owned roads at any time. But as long as I'm on public property, as far as I know, nobody can (yet) prohibit me from taking photos of passing trains.
  • Current Music
    Al Stewart: To Whom It May Concern, 1966-1970
Wig Wag

Although I Consider "Foamer" Roughly Equivalent to "Trekkie"

On a more positive note, at least one railroad realizes that all of us who like watching trains are an asset to be cultivated, not a threat to be discouraged.

BNSF Railroad Relies on Railfans Eyes for Security

Railroads are very susceptible to nefarious acts. But then again, lots of our infrastructure is highly vulnerable. Having a bunch of unpaid enthusiasts who enjoy watching the trains in all sorts of weather and all manner of improbable locations is something that the railroads haven't always appreciated.

However, I am mildly perturbed by the line about "Fans ... may not photograph trains hauling military equipment." Again, I know of no law prohibiting this. If there is such a law, I want to see the citation. I can sort of see the justification, I guess, but I want to see the citation of the law.
  • Current Mood
    optimistic optimistic