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Amtrak Photo Contestant Arrested By Amtrak Police

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the what-we-have-here-is-a-failure-to-communicate dept.

Transportation 675

Photographer Duane Kerzic was standing on the public platform in New York's Penn Station, taking pictures of trains in hopes of winning the annual photo contest that Amtrak had been running since 2003. Amtrak police arrested him for refusing to delete the photos when asked, though they later charged him with trespassing. "Obviously, there is a lack of communication between Amtrak's marketing department, which promotes the annual contest, called Picture Our Trains, and its police department, which has a history of harassing photographers for photographing these same trains. Not much different than the JetBlue incident from earlier this year where JetBlue flight attendants had a woman arrested for refusing to delete a video she filmed in flight while the JetBlue marketing department hosted a contest encouraging passengers to take photos in flight." Kerzic's blog has an account of the arrest on Dec. 21 and the aftermath.

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675 comments

sue Amtrak and JetBlue (5, Insightful)

speedtux (1307149) | more than 5 years ago | (#26321865)

Those companies have no right to ask you to delete photos. They can ask you to leave their premises... once it's safe to do so, that's all.

Re:sue Amtrak and JetBlue (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26321903)

Of course they have the right to ask you to delete the pictures. It's just that you have the right to refuse :-)

Re:sue Amtrak and JetBlue (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26321933)

Or just comply and delete them. Then after the police release you and you're walking away, shout "But I have undeletion software on my computer at home that will recover them!"

Then run.

Re:sue Amtrak and JetBlue (2, Interesting)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 5 years ago | (#26321959)

Better yet, just claim that you have things set up so your camera automatically uploads all photos to the Internet and so deleting them will do no good.

Re:sue Amtrak and JetBlue (5, Interesting)

neapolitan (1100101) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322035)

*We* appreciate the tongue in cheek humor, but the simplest solution is the best -- take out the card after you take the pictures, or pretend to delete them and move on, or delete - then immediately remove the card for undeletion hopes.

Getting in a pissing match with a police is always a bad idea. They are not the judges, and they are usually, in their own minds, doing the right thing and unlikely to be convinced by you. Thus, do your best to get out of the situation and appeal to higher authority, somebody with actual decision or policy making capacity.

I hope this guy gets an apology and a small amount of money. I don't think he should get rich off this incident, but Amtrak police should definitely pay a price for their aggression and misinformation.

Re:sue Amtrak and JetBlue (5, Insightful)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322117)

Uneducated police officers do harm not just to those they arrest illegally but to the image of law enforcement in general.

Allowing the police to get away with these situations, no matter how small, just because you have the 'smarts' to get out of it is the wrong tack.

I would suggest confronting the situation legally but head-on as an intelligent person who should be able to defend themselves in these situations. The police forces of the world's democracies need to be kept in check, and we must keep our countries away from the slippery slope of random arrests, threats and other totalitarian scare tactics some police forces have a tendency toward.

Keep your country free -- fight improper police procedure openly and in public until it changes.

Re:sue Amtrak and JetBlue (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26322363)

I'm glad I don't have a whole country full of deceitful, greedy kikes stealing all my water and land anywhere near me. Fucking Jews can't just live in peace. They have to steal other people's land. Our national economy is collapsing from the Jewbanks doing their usual Jewthing. You see, with Jews, you lose. That's how THEY win. They WIN by making YOU lose. So let's lose the Jews.

Global warming could be swiftly solved if we incinerated all of the Jews. Their ashes would be ejected into the upper atmosphere, where they would block some sunlight from hitting the earth. The economy would improve thanks to the absence of Jewish predatory lending, and it would buy us time to deal with climate change. Two birds, one stone.

Fun with Facts:

  • Isreal has a Jewish population of 5,309,000.
  • America has a Jewish population of 5,275,000.

Guess who really owns America? Hint hint, it isn't the Americans.

Re:sue Amtrak and JetBlue (3, Interesting)

my $anity 0 (917519) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322477)

Often just one level up will be more knowledgeable and compassionate about situations.

One of my friends, who is intersex and transgender, was followed and approached by campus police at my school 3 hours after going into the "wrong" bathroom (which one is right?). Sie was almost arrested, but sie and hir friend went to the person in charge. In return, they got a formal apology from the offending police. This shouldn't happen. However, it does, sadly. I was very glad at least someone knew the right thing to do.

Re:sue Amtrak and JetBlue (1, Informative)

speedtux (1307149) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322151)

If you want to do that, you can use ShoZu or Ovi (Google) on you camera phone. There's also live video streaming and recording from your cell phone.

But instead of picking a fight, just say "Sure, officer, I'll delete the photos. See, all gone, even the last one I took of you."

Re:sue Amtrak and JetBlue (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322475)

If you want to do that, you can use ShoZu or Ovi (Google) on you camera phone. There's also live video streaming and recording from your cell phone.

But instead of picking a fight, just say "Sure, officer, I'll delete the photos. See, all gone, even the last one I took of you."

I'm sure they could always ask for a complete inventory of the software on your devices along with your login passwords as well. Though I would think that transit police don't have that much sophistication yet.

Re:sue Amtrak and JetBlue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26322519)

why not claim that deleting them will trigger an automatic huge headline on your blog saying you were forced to delete them, the only way to delete them without this is from home?

Re:sue Amtrak and JetBlue (5, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322459)

"Is it illegal to take photos?" If they claim it is, then ask why they want you to delete evidence. If not ask them why they want you to delete lawfully taken photos.

Re:sue Amtrak and JetBlue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26321975)

"have a right to" in this kind of context means "have a legal basis to"; there is no danger of confusion with your literal interpretation because the literal interpretation would make any such statement pointless.

Re:sue Amtrak and JetBlue (5, Informative)

ktappe (747125) | more than 5 years ago | (#26321979)

They can ask you to leave their premises

Even that is questionable. This is a publicly-funded organization (they provide mass transit, after all) and the photographer had a legally purchased ticket. They do NOT have the right to selectively ask people to leave without a just reason for same (eg. threatening others, intoxication, etc.) Civil rights laws passed in the 1960's protect everyone, not just the african americans who fought for them--if others have the right to stay on the train platform, so does he.

Re:sue Amtrak and JetBlue (0, Flamebait)

theillien2 (1426175) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322341)

As much as I hate to use it as a excuse for them, since the Trade Center attacks photographing public transit has become a point of concern. A similar reaction could be expected of someone standing at the end of a runway taking pictures of the undersides of planes as they took off.

I agree that the lack of communication between the marketing and law enforcement departments is where things went wrong. However, it isn't the law enforcements responsibility to call every other department after an arrest to find out if something legitimate was being done. They were merely doing their jobs based on what they knew of current affairs.

Re:sue Amtrak and JetBlue (5, Insightful)

rhizome (115711) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322373)

As much as I hate to use it as a excuse for them,

Then don't.

However, it isn't the law enforcements responsibility to call every other department after an arrest to find out if something legitimate was being done. They were merely doing their jobs based on what they knew of current affairs.

It's law enforcement's responsibility not to enforce laws that don't exist.

Re:sue Amtrak and JetBlue (0, Flamebait)

theillien2 (1426175) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322479)

I'll use it because it is a legitimate concern jackass.

The law might not exist but one of the tenets of law enforcement agencies is "to protect and serve". If they did nothing while someone was taking pictures and that person ended up being part of some kind of terrorist scheme people would be up in arms that nothing was done.

I always find it interesting when people have this Utopian view of things when in reality risks have to be taken to ensure the world runs smoothly. Get your head out of your ass. Your civil liberties don't always trump the good intentions of the well meaning.

Re:sue Amtrak and JetBlue (5, Insightful)

excesspwr (218183) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322591)

All right I'll bite.

"Your civil liberties don't always trump the good intentions of the well meaning"

As one of the well meaning with good intentions, yes they do. I want your civil liberties to trump my good intentions. My good intentions are based on my moral/ethical code, not yours. Just the same as I don't want other's moral/ethical good intentions infringing on my civil liberties.

Re:sue Amtrak and JetBlue (4, Informative)

Jerry Smith (806480) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322593)

I'll use it because it is a legitimate concern jackass.

The law might not exist but one of the tenets of law enforcement agencies is "to protect and serve". If they did nothing while someone was taking pictures and that person ended up being part of some kind of terrorist scheme people would be up in arms that nothing was done.

I always find it interesting when people have this Utopian view of things when in reality risks have to be taken to ensure the world runs smoothly. Get your head out of your ass. Your civil liberties don't always trump the good intentions of the well meaning.

What use is your argument, when Amtrak literally invites people to take pictures:

"Photo contest winner to appear on Amtrak's 2004 wall calendar
WASHINGTON - Do you have the perfect photo of an Amtrak train or are you ready to snap it? One that makes anyone who sees it yearn to climb on board and travel across America? If so, it could become a part of an Amtrak tradition -- the corporation's annual wall calendar."

http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Copy/News_Release_Page&c=am2Copy&cid=1081794202583

You did not even bother to read the summary, did you?

Re:sue Amtrak and JetBlue (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322367)

They can ask you to leave their premises

Even that is questionable. This is a publicly-funded organization...

People need to read the EULA of the services they are paying for.

Re:sue Amtrak and JetBlue (5, Informative)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322007)

Those companies have no right to ask you to delete photos.

You don't even have to show them the pictures you took, since photography when you aren't trespassing isn't a crime. (Secure areas of military installations and nuclear facilities aside.)

If you are allowed to be there, you aren't committing a crime until they ask you to leave and you don't. They can say "Stop taking pictures or leave" if you are on private property and that is said by a representative of the property you are on. In public, you can photograph pretty much anything, especially police and other security personnel.

IANAL, and laws might be different in your state, but here [krages.com] is a lawyer talking about this, and a nice little pamphlet [krages.com] he made about this.

Re:sue Amtrak and JetBlue (1)

Kindaian (577374) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322159)

(Secure areas of military installations and nuclear facilities aside.)

If they are marked as such... otherwise... how do you know it's such a instalation?

Re:sue Amtrak and JetBlue (5, Insightful)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322223)

Try taking pictures of cops and see how long you go without your camera being smashed or getting arrested on a trivial or obscure charge.

Well do that in EU (3, Informative)

cefek (148764) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322467)

Here in good, ol' Europe no cop will ever ask you to stop shooting photos - if he/she's on duty of course. Best they can do is to turn around. You have the right to video them, photo them when they're doing the job you are paying for.

The point is (5, Insightful)

toby (759) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322499)

Is that how you want things to be? With public authorities abusing that authority without legal basis?

Dissent *is* still an option, this side of another Revolution.

Re:sue Amtrak and JetBlue (4, Interesting)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322239)

Reminds me of when I was in NYC. There was a big bronze/goldish building around 1 Wallstreet. There was this big bouncer guy standing there walking across the street asking people either to not take photos or to delete the ones they had.

If I had more time I would have pressed the issue. Every one was across the street on public property taking photos of a public building.

I can't seem to find the area on google earth now.

Re:sue Amtrak and JetBlue (0, Redundant)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322089)

I imagine they are within the law just asking you to delete them, just like anyone can ask you to do something. Demanding, on the other hand...

Re:sue Amtrak and JetBlue (5, Interesting)

Kindaian (577374) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322133)

First it isn't their premises.

Second he had a ticket, so they can't evict him from the platform before he decides at his own time to do so (not dragging feet naturally but not need to force him to sprint out either).

Third it's public space.

It is unconstitutional to forbid photography in public spaces as photography has been confirmed by the Supreme Court as included in the 1st Amendment protections.

But I'm only dabbling things read elsewhere... like ITFA...

Re:sue Amtrak and JetBlue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26322461)

Actually they have every right in the world to ask or tell you to delete the photos. What they have no right to do is detain you until you do.

What a bunch of dicks. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26321909)

And WTF is this about "Amtrak police"? They would be New York police or they would be "Amtrak security guards" but last I checked, Amtrak does not maintain an official government police force. Ah well, maybe this is another example of the euphamism trend. He's not a janitor, he's a sanitation engineer! He's not a security guard or a rent-a-cop, he's Amtrak Police!

Re:What a bunch of dicks. (2, Informative)

gibbsjoh (186795) | more than 5 years ago | (#26321939)

I've not done the research, but here in the UK we have the British Transport Police, who police the railways and so forth, and are real cops. Can any Americans shed some light?

Re:What a bunch of dicks. (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322211)

here in the UK we have the British Transport Police, who police the railways and so forth, and are real cops.

Well, "real" is relative. While UK Transport Police have similar powers to normal police, they have lower entry requirements. They are, to all intents and purposes, failed cops.

Re:What a bunch of dicks. (3, Insightful)

The Outlander (1279696) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322527)

They are, to all intents and purposes, failed cops.

Its unfair to say they are failed cops.

Just because your a nurse that doesn't mean your a failed doctor it means you want to be a nurse, same applies with transport police.

Hay amtrak policia (5, Informative)

MushMouth (5650) | more than 5 years ago | (#26321961)

Many transit agencies have their own POLICE force, Check out what a BART police officer did this week [sfgate.com]. Amtrak maintains an official police force [wikipedia.org]

Re:Hay amtrak policia (3, Informative)

badfish99 (826052) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322115)

Indeed, it seems that more or less anyone in the US who is involved in any way with the transport industry can set up their own private police force. For an example, see here [schneier.com]

they appear to actually be police (4, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 5 years ago | (#26321973)

For partly historical reasons, railroad police of the larger railroads in the US and Canada are actual police officers rather than merely private security forces, with full law-enforcement jurisdiction. See also Wikipedia on the Amtrak Police [wikipedia.org].

Re:they appear to actually be police (1)

SlashdotOgre (739181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322181)

That's correct, even on smaller rail systems like BART (the Bay Area Rapid Transit system in the San Francisco metropolitan area), the policing force are actual police officers. They go so far as to having their own SWAT team, undercover officers, K9 dogs, etc.

Re:they appear to actually be police (1, Funny)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322283)

Canine dogs? As opposed to the other kind?

Re:they appear to actually be police (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26322583)

no, that was "K9 dogs" -- as opposed to the vast majority of dogs in the world who aren't in a K9 unit. And since there are also humans in a K9 unit, there's really no better way to say it.

Re:What a bunch of dicks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26321995)

Is it really too hard to do a simple search?

Yes, the Amtrak Police [wikipedia.org] exists and it is a federal police agency.

Re:What a bunch of dicks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26322137)

Private police forces are, in fact, real.

From Bruce Schneier: http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2007/02/private_police.html

Re:What a bunch of dicks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26322485)

Umm, check again. Amtrak is a quasi-Federal agency. Amtrak police are sworn Federal law enforcement officers. They share investigation jurisdiction with the FBI on Amtrak grounds. They are trained at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, where all Federal LEOs (FBI, DEA, Army CID, Postal Inspectors, etc) are trained.

OMG (-1, Troll)

aztektum (170569) | more than 5 years ago | (#26321921)

The guy used a digital camera! Post this to /., stat!

Re:OMG (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26322061)

everyone else here seems interested in talking about it. if you aren't why don't you go find some other thread to be an asshole in?

Re:OMG (5, Insightful)

dmomo (256005) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322085)

Even if this didn't involve technology, who is to say that this isn't "news for nerds" or something "that matters"? Nerds are interested in more than just the latest tech. Here on Slashdot many of us also like to talk about copyright, privacy, civil liberties. I'd say that this site is as much about a culture as it is about tech. Hopefully I'm not alone here. I don't feel alone.

Re:OMG (1, Troll)

aztektum (170569) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322597)

So science journals should start putting Martha Stewart recipes in them; I mean I'm sure the people that read Science enjoy food too.

I started coming to this site because it was full of nerdy goodness. It's turned into, at best, a mediocre tech site and a poor excuse for a socially conscious sound board. I mean really this is the best they could post? This guy needs to get a lawyer. Nuff said; I don't see any TRUE significance to this story. In fact, this is probably the LEAST socially significant story I've read all week.

It's not wonder the comments following posts are becoming less and less over the years. News for Nerds use to actually mean NEWS FOR NERDS. Things you'd be laughed at for reading in high school...

Or am I just getting old? GET OFF MY LAWN!

Amtrak Police!?! (1, Flamebait)

geirnord (150896) | more than 5 years ago | (#26321949)

Has "the land of the free" gotten to the point of creating privatly owned police forces now? Or, at least, fixing them as such in the public mind?

Are even Slashdot editors and readers at a point to see this, and not protest? Both at the privatization of goverment duties, and at Slashdot editors not thinking freely?

What's next? Jennifer Amtrack?

Re:Amtrak Police!?! (4, Informative)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322017)

Has "the land of the free" gotten to the point of creating privatly owned police forces now? Or, at least, fixing them as such in the public mind?

Railroads have had their own police forces for as long as I can remember - and I'm 48. This isn't anything new or insidious.

I am bothered by the fact that photographers get hassled - quite often - by overzealous officials who don't seem to know what's legal and what's not. This happened up here in Seattle a bit after 9/11 when a photographer was photographing a railroad trestle. But if you're in a public space, you are allowed to photograph pretty much anything you can see (even people) without permission.

Re:Amtrak Police!?! (0, Offtopic)

Kindaian (577374) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322191)

The same can't be said of using ALL those photos for commercial or offensive ways...

That may not be forbidden... but can open the way for a nice lawsuit...

Re:Amtrak Police!?! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26322033)

Has "the land of the free" gotten to the point of creating privatly owned police forces now? Or, at least, fixing them as such in the public mind?

Are even Slashdot editors and readers at a point to see this, and not protest? Both at the privatization of goverment duties, and at Slashdot editors not thinking freely?


Actually, this is exactly in line with what many of the libertarian-minded slashdotters would like to see (whether they're aware of it or not). This is what happens when you have privately-owned and operated "police" forces that offer their services to the higher bidder. There are some things that government should do, and that is why we have governments in the first place. Police services are one of them. Another is reliable oversight and a means to petition abuses of those services.

Re:Amtrak Police!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26322083)

Libertarian babble aside, the fundamental basis of the grandparent is incorrect: Amtrak AND it's police force are entities of the federal government.

Re:Amtrak Police!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26322201)

This is what happens when you have privately-owned and operated "police" forces that offer their services to the higher bidder.

If this is all that happens, shouldn't we be all for it? A little scratch on a wrist and some inconvenience? I'd rather have that then the murder, rape, corruption, and cover-ups being perpetrated by government police forces (who are ironically held _less_ accountable for many of their on-duty actions).

There are some things that government should do, and that is why we have governments in the first place.

We have governments because people would do each other harm unless otherwise coerced.

Everything else a government does empowers the government at the expense of the people and, at best, is feature creep that could be handled in other ways - public or otherwise.

Re:Amtrak Police!?! (1)

Gonoff (88518) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322095)

We have a similar police force in the UK. On Railway property, there is the Transport Police and on the other side of an imaginary line the normal one. I suspect that you will find something similar in many other places. It is nothing new - a quick look on Wikipedia says ours can be traced back to 1826. Amtrak is not a trend setter there, don't worry about it...

BTP guidelnes for Photographers (5, Interesting)

RotateLeftByte (797477) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322173)

Has been around sine 1825 (see "about us" page on their website. They have a policy that covers people taking pictures & 'gricers' on Railway Property. I have a copy of this in my Camera bag. It came in handy just before Christmas when a local Plod wanted to stop me takng pictures of Eurostar Trains in Kent. He read it and said 'sorry sir. I'll download a copy for myself'.

http://www.btp.police.uk/passengers/advice_and_information/rail_enthusiasts.aspx [police.uk]

Perhaps Amtrak should adopt something similar?

Re:Amtrak Police!?! (5, Insightful)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322225)

For all it's worth, Amtrak is owned by your federal government. Amtrak having a police force is is really just the federal government operating another specialized police force. Nearly all major transit systems employ some form of transit police. To not do so is simply irresponsible (there are real safety concerns on a transit system, just like how there are real safety concerns out on a street). Sometimes, if the system is local, its just a specialized unit of the local police force, other times the system has its own force composed of officers who are sworn in with local police forces (so really just a difference in bureaucracy and funding). In nearly all cases, its kind of moot cause many transit systems are government own, or heavily funded by the government.

In Amtrak's case of being a nation-wide system, you really can't expect anything other than Amtrak employ its own police forces. The FBI won't just create a Amtrak unit, and dealing with multiple police forces (crime occurs on a train moving between jurisdictions?) is just silly.

You're over reacting.

Re:Amtrak Police!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26322291)

So, do you jump to conclusions often?

Better link to what happened (4, Interesting)

SiliconEntity (448450) | more than 5 years ago | (#26321951)

Here is a better link to what happened:

http://www.duanek.name/Amtrak/index.htm [duanek.name]

Re:Better link to what happened (4, Informative)

eggoeater (704775) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322055)

If you are taking photographs in a public place, know your rights. Take a copy of this with you:

http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm [krages.com]

Re:Better link to what happened (1)

Potor (658520) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322495)

i saw security forces on a film location in philadelphia order members of the public not to take photos of the action, even though they were standing on public streets and behind the tape. is such photography legal? your cheat sheet doesn't address this directly, and i've always wondered...

He's partly wrong (5, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322171)

I am a somewhat serious photographer myself, and so I feel empathy for Duane (I have been questioned before about taking photography in some places, but never arrested nor asked to delete photos).

However although it is true in the list he makes of previous terrorist actions where no photos were used (as far as I know), something to consider is that the terrorists in the recent Mumbai attacks had extensive photo and video reconnaissance of places like the hotel they attacked, a restaurant they planned to attack and also the Jewish center they attacked. Honestly I have a hard time believing that no photography was used in any of the other actions, even as simple a thing as looking at photographs of the New York skyline on Flickr.

However, just because photography (like many other things) is a tool which can be used for ill as well as good, in no way does that make it right to arrest someone anywhere for taking photos. But you shouldn't put it forward as fact that real life terrorists never use photographs as reconnaissance material.

An interesting distinction is that he was not arrested for taking photos, but for refusing to delete them when asked. The practical reality of such a situation is that what I would do is delete the photos and simply un-delete them later (always carry more than one card)... but I do think it's wrong or at least silly to make deletion a condition of arrest as there's no way any officer is going to be technically proficient enough to ensure that the photos are actually deleted, and trying to ensure compliance through confiscation of equipment is frankly almost worse than arrest as it's way too easy to abuse as a form of theft of equipment whereas arrest has more real repercussions and officers are not as likely to go that far (not to mention I'll just palm my CF card while you are not looking and slip in a new one so I can keep my photos).

I'd be more comfortable with making it necessary on request to be photographed or videotaped (along with your ID) by the police officer if he suspects you of anything (not just photography, but taking odd notes or sketches of a floorplan). You don't get arrested, you get to leave with your photos - but the possibility of being "officially" recorded may be enough to deter some true reconnaissance work (just as much as the threat of being arrested for taking photographs today). Some people see that as police state kind of stuff but honestly the way things are we are recorded almost constantly in public anyway, so I do not see any issue with one more recording being made and I don't think of it as an invasion of privacy when I am out somewhere that is not private. It doesn't limit my freedom in any way and leaning on that more heavily than arrest gives me back freedom of photography that we are starting to lack.

Re:He's partly wrong (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26322609)

"... something to consider is that the terrorists in the recent Mumbai attacks had extensive photo and video reconnaissance of places..."

You should also consider that the terrorist ate. And probably talked. And used cell phones. And slept.

Better yet, consider that a really stupid line of argument.

What's with this new delete your videos trend? (2, Interesting)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 5 years ago | (#26321993)

It seems like we're always hearing about people repressing each other these days by demanding they delete videos from their camera.  What's with this?  It's unusually asinine even for the general public.  I mean, not only are these folks imagining they have rights over another which they do not have, but certainly someone could trivially "fake delete" the photos in their camera?  Are they technical enough to watch someone do this and know it's for real?  They have familiarity with every camera interface (not known for their simplicity) known to man?

I mean, a proper repressor would confiscate the camera.  They can't even repress properly, these days.

Re:What's with this new delete your videos trend? (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26322029)

What's with the "CODE" tag? We're using computers, not typewriters. Monospace fonts for regular text is just painful.

Re:What's with this new delete your videos trend? (1, Insightful)

TriezGamer (861238) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322101)

Monospace fonts are just fine -- it's the one-pixel width of the characters that make it a bitch to read.

Re:What's with this new delete your videos trend? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26322197)

A "proper repressor" would have traced your IP, arrived at or near your home, shot you in the back, and erased all your records from history. And the photo contestant would have died by dissolution in concentrated sodium hydroxide, slowly.

You don't want a proper repressor in your country, my friend. But RIAA is getting near.

good! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26322001)

he should be arrested for abusing the LensBaby

he's not a photographer, he's a motion sickness inducing quack

PUNishment (4, Funny)

gooman (709147) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322047)

Sounds like the police derailed his plans.
Maybe they need more training.
That's no way to conduct themselves.
The marketing department is on the right track here.
Someone should engineer a solution.

It's part of the contest! (5, Funny)

vell0cet (1055494) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322051)

The point of the contest is not to take really great pictures, it's to try to get away with it. It all makes sense now, it's just a ploy to test their private police.

Re:It's part of the contest! (2, Funny)

quinks (1172373) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322577)

And the pictures that are submitted are evidence of places that need to be more heavily policed, because anonymous photographers were able to take pictures there.

It all makes sense now!

Missing the forest for the trees (5, Interesting)

Thatmushroom (447396) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322075)

Nowhere in his original account (http://www.duanek.name/Amtrak/index.htm [duanek.name]) does he state that he was taking the pictures for the contest. It seems to be that the journalist chose to heavily emphasize the contest angle, perhaps to go for a more compelling story. Unfortunately, the journalist's choice to spin it as a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, he missed the bigger picture. Photographers are increasingly faced with arbitrary restrictions and demands that are not based upon the law, but based on fear. Forums at places like dpreview.com and flickr are often abuzz with stories of cops making unreasonable demands.

The only way to counteract this is with knowledge. If you happen to like taking pictures of subjects in public spaces, http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm [krages.com] is an enlightening read. This link (http://www.kantor.com/blog/Legal-Rights-of-Photographers.pdf [kantor.com]) says essentially the same thing, but lays it out with a real-world example.

Also, to the editors, perhaps having a link to the current version of the contest (http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Copy/Hot_Deals_Page&c=am2Copy&cid=1093554057903&ssid=224 [amtrak.com]) would be good. I was skeptical that they actually had continued running the contest until I found that.

Re:Missing the forest for the trees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26322219)

Your point is well taken, but:

Not so nice a day with snow. Well that'll put some water on the trains and make them reflect the light differently. Lensbaby should be perfect for this day that will have strange light. Perhaps I'll get a winner for Amtrak's "Picture Our Train" contest. Well that was a good dream while it lasted.

From here [duanek.name]. Might be a snarky after-the-fact comment, but he *did* mention the contest.

misleadingsummary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26322077)

Um, any particular reason why this tag is here? I don't see any comments disputing major details.

There are two sides to this story... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26322097)

Sadly we can not hear the story from the Amtrak cop on the photographer's actions and statements.

I am no way condoning what happened because the way I see it Amtrak was in the wrong but that doesn't mean the photographer was being a kind citizen as well.

London Underground (5, Interesting)

Gord (23773) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322099)

Just as a comparison with the London Underground, taking any photos on the Underground requires a permit which costs £300 for a two-hour permit (less for students), details are here [tfl.gov.uk]. I wonder what the penalty for taking photographs with out a permit is...

Re:London Underground (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322271)

Permission to photograph has been needed in UK Underground stations for decades. I ran into this problem in Glasgow Underground in the early 80s. It's for safety reasons (at least originally -- the risk of flash distracting the driver, or the photographer accidentally pushing a passenger off the platform while being distracted.)

And in theory, to use a tripod anywhere in the UK you need permission from the local authorities.

Re:London Underground (1)

emgeemg (182902) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322453)

Interesting. I was on vacationing in London 2 years ago and decided to snap some casual photos in the Underground while waiting for my train. A police officer noticed me take the picture and only told me that the use of flash was not permitted. She didn't tell me that I could not take pictures (no tripod was being used).

Re:London Underground (1)

hoytt (469787) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322537)

It seems the linked page focusses on information for people who want to shoot photos for ads and similar things. Although I'm sure they'll also apply it to a trainspotter shooting some photos.

You can understand why AmTrack would do this (1)

AnalPerfume (1356177) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322139)

A photo showing badly carried out maintenance could cause them a lot of money to first silence the bad PR, smear the whistle blower to discredit them, then to cut corners in "fixing" what had been exposed. Much cheaper to stop the photo before it can possibly get into the public domain. ...ahem....I mean "terrorists could use this info, are you a terrorist sonny? If not, you will do your patriotic duty and delete these images!!!! NOW!!!!"

How many Camera Nerds (5, Funny)

Kagato (116051) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322143)

How many NYC transit cops does it take to push a camera nerd down the stairs?

None, he tripped.

Because all the security bullshit (2, Interesting)

PingXao (153057) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322155)

All the security bullshit is just that: bullshit. Security Theater. The talk is big (this includes recent cyber-security alarmist stories) but in no relation whatsoever to real threats. The arena of "security" is about protecting the feifdom now. Jobs and budgets to protect. Projects to hype. Dangers to overestimate. Get your consultant dollars - step right up.

Somebody has to call a spade a spade and do it soon or else Orwell will be here to stay in this guise. Bush opened the door. Americans invited him in. Failure to now see that the emperor has no clothes will be his invitation to stay on as a permanent houseguest.

IMO the hero of this story is that citizen who, when asked to delete their photo, told them to go fuck themselves.

Amtrak security even interrupts its official spoke (4, Interesting)

iktos (166530) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322175)

Amtrak security was even filmed saying filming isn't allowed, when a news crew was interviewing Amtrak's spokesperson, who very clearly was saying there's no policy forbidding filming or taking photographs:
http://www.myfoxdc.com/myfox/pages/ContentDetail?contentId=6664418 [myfoxdc.com]

Re:Amtrak security even interrupts its official sp (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322407)

Amtrak security was even filmed saying filming isn't allowed, when a news crew was interviewing Amtrak's spokesperson, who very clearly was saying there's no policy forbidding filming or taking photographs:
http://www.myfoxdc.com/myfox/pages/ContentDetail?contentId=6664418 [myfoxdc.com]

A beautiful piece of footage dropped right in their laps there - you've got chief spokesman saying "no idea what the problem is" and security guard saying "stop filming" both in the frame simultaneously and NOBODY says either to chief spokesman "Well, we obviously have an issue here" or to security guard "Do you realise who this man who's just told us this is OK is?"

Unwarranted hysteria (4, Insightful)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322195)

According to his blog, he was in a posted "no trespassing" area at the time. The only real defense he has is that the signs are not very conspicuous. I agree the amtrack cop's behavior sounds bad, but it's hard to say whether or not he was provoked by his "victim" -- not that that's any excuse, but it does suggest the incident may be overblown and the cop's actions somewhat understandable, if a bit over the top. Amtrack cops are human too.

What?? (0)

bogidu (300637) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322235)

After RTFA I can't find ANYWHERE that there is a photo contest currently running! The one that is references is from like 4 years ago! BS detector just went off loud and clear.

More to the story? (1)

fuffer (600365) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322299)

Why didn't he just follow the orders, leave, then file a complaint? I'm not defending Amtrak here, since it sounds like they were in the wrong, but it's like getting pulled over by the police. The side of the road is not the place to argue your case. The officer is not a judge, and you aren't the jury. The bottom line is that arguing with the officer almost never results in you "winning", and can often hurt your chances of winning a lawsuit later on if the jury thinks you were provoking a response.

In the name of "National Security"... (4, Informative)

Lumenary7204 (706407) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322315)

It's a shame how many of our rights are being curtailed in the name of "National Security".

As far as I've been able to ascertain from the article, Mr. Kerzic was standing in an area designated for use by the public. It does not appear to be a restricted area, and from what I can see from the photograph in the article, there are no signs warning against photography by the public.

However, as bad as we may think it is here in the United States (compared to the pre-9/11 world), things are much worse in the United Kingdom. The rights of the Individual in the UK are enshrined in Common Law (i.e., customary law passed down through the ages), and not explicitly delineated in any sort of constitutional document.

For example, in the US, we have a Constitutional Amendment guaranteeing the right against self-incrimination [wikipedia.org]. A recent court case [wikipedia.org] implies that this right includes encryption keys: If a law enforcement agency impounds your laptop for analysis, but can't get anything out of it because the contents have been encrypted, too bad for them. Handing over the encryption key would be a form of self-incrimination [cnet.com], so you don't have to do it.

On the other hand, laws, ordinances, and Police reactions regarding individual freedoms can and often do change at a whim, depending on what is expedient at the time (8th paragraph, about half-way down) [theregister.co.uk]. In addition, since the right against self-incrimination is based on Common Law, and not written as an explicit right, ordinances like the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act [wikipedia.org] can easily curtail and eliminate such rights [theregister.co.uk]. As usual, some groups say that even these powers do not go far enough [guardian.co.uk], invoking the familiar mantra of "National Security".

And these things are happening in two of the most "open and democratic" societies the world has ever seen...

And on a side-note, here's an interesting question: Who's standing in the "restricted" zone across the tracks taking the picture of the "public" train platform?

Shooting trains in Europe (4, Informative)

hoytt (469787) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322333)

I've shot plenty of train pictures in various European countries and so far I've only experienced problems in Marseille this summer. I was asked to stop taking pictures by a gentleman with a somewhat official suit and a walkie-talkie. My lack of French at that point made it smarter to follow the instructions rather than ask him what the exact problems were. In both Germany and Switzerland no one even came to ask what I was doing while taking pictures. Especially Switzerland with all the different railroads and rolling stock is a country where you might end up with a small group of people all shooting the same trains.

Dumb Policy ... And Soon Won't Matter Anyways (2, Interesting)

Ron Bennett (14590) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322463)

In the near future, with digital cameras getting smaller and better, it's only a matter of time before many people have a tiny video camera in the frame of their eye glasses, or on a necklace, or even perhaps, woven into their clothing, which is recording all the time, with occasional auto-saves to the internet.

Ron

What should have happened (3, Insightful)

Teancum (67324) | more than 5 years ago | (#26322587)

I would have to agree that citing reasons of "national security" or "potential terrorist threat" as rationale for stopping photography of public places is about as lame as it gets. Once the photos are taken, the photographer should simply move on and be done.

This said, I have seen photographers abuse their "1st amendment rights" by setting up what is arguably a campsite with tripods, light meters, lighting, and other equipment that takes up space and can interfere with other patrons or members of the public that need to use those public spaces. Clearly even this photographer was doing more than simply taking a quick snapshot of a friend and moving on, even if he didn't pull out all of the toys of a genuine professional.

In a situation like this, obtaining a "permit" in terms of organizing a more protracted shooting session and letting the station manager know what you are going to be doing there would certainly have at least some value, and they might be able to suggest some more optimal times to take the photographs or locations that would reduce or eliminate interference. You might even be able to get access to areas not normally deemed "public access" as well. Rather than being something of a problem, you might have an escort that would even be helping you out with the shoot.

What really should have happened here was the officer politely but firmly saying: "Excuse me, sir, but you are standing in the way and could you move along and do that somewhere else?" or even "I would rather you be standing over here" (pointing to a logical location that is out of the way). A photographer that insists at that point in being an ass can have multiple charges thrown at him, including failure to obey a lawful order, disturbing the peace, and more. The lawful order here would be to move along and stay out of pedestrian traffic lanes.

Other than having the photographer getting in everybody's way, I don't see any other rationale for prohibiting this sort of photography. Even a rough "move it, buddy" would have at least given a proper message. Clearly this officer needs to have a good indoctrination of what the law actually is in this situation.

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