Via John Laxmi
New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority has revived its earlier effort to ban photography from New York’s subways and buses and the National Press Photographers Association is asking all journalists to join in the fight against this proposed ban by submitting public comments.
The change in MTA policy would make photography on the historic subway system punishable by a $25 fine and/or up to 10 days in prison. Other banned activities include smoking, jumping turnstiles and putting one’s feet on the seat. This effort to criminalize photography is presented as necessary in order to increase security on the transportation lines and to prevent terrorism, although it would continue to be legal to carry a licensed, concealed gun on the subway.
While the proposed regulations contains an exception for journalists with NYPD press credentials, the NPPA supports right to free expression for all photographers, not just photojournalists. We also believe that no government entity has the Constitutional right to determine who is, or who is not, a journalist with First Amendment protections.
In addition, because of the availability of hidden cameras and camera telephones, this proposed ban will merely result in police wasting valuable time harassing innocent photographers and tourists with visible cameras.
The photography ban, which NPPA has opposed since we first learned of the plan in May 2004, was posted in the New York State Register on November 24. The official public comment period has begun but it will end shortly, on January 10, 2005.
We encourage all of our members and other interested parties to submit comments as soon as possible here.
According to the MTA Web site, comments that have already been submitted will be reviewed and considered along with the any new comments submitted during the official comment period.
The NPPA believes this proposal represents a part of a larger, ongoing trend in the United States and that it is important for all NPPA members to take action, regardless of if they are a New York resident or not. Under the umbrella of “fighting terrorism” we have seen government officials nationwide moving to limit free expression, free speech, and free press. While such rights may often be inconvenient for the government, we believe that they are essential to ensuring the liberty and freedom that we enjoy in this nation.
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For more information, please contact Alicia Wagner Calzada, NPPA Vice President.