Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Drawing a Line

There are lots of sights worth photographing in London but perhaps the most photographed place in London over the last few days was probably the protest outside of New Scotland Yard. It was part of a media-driven campaign meant to highlight and protest a new law which fined anyone caught taking photographs of security personnel in and around England and carries with it a hefty fine and a prison sentence lasting up to ten years. Now this law is meant in part to help curb terror related activities in the country but it comes out in such a way that many people don't know what to make of it.

Now granted (and thankfully) it's been several years since either England or the United States has had terrorist attacks on their soil. And when those events occurred naturally the reaction was to do something to ensure that such attacks never happened again if it could be avoided. Here in the United States the formation of the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Agency were but two of many new agencies and laws that were put into effect in the days following September 11th and are still in effect today. Similar events occurred in England as well following the Underground bombings that occurred a few years ago.

When those events are fresh in the minds of most people, there is a clamor to lay the blame and a call for action so most of the time, someone or something is needed to prove that precautions are being taken. Now soon after the attacks in both countries and after security was increased, the inconvenience that most people experienced took precedence over the safety that many wanted just a few months before and so once again there were complaints about what one had to go through in order to take a simple plane trip. I remember because I have travelled on occasion from just after 9/11 to today and I can tell you that while I may not like having to arrive at the airport hours ahead of time for a flight, I understand the need for it.

The recent declaration in England regarding the photographing of security and military personnel is yet another sign of wanting to do something good but not knowing where to draw the line. I'm sure people are wondering why such rules are being put up in the first place and it comes down to how many of the terrorists involved in the tragic events of the past have gathered the intelligence they needed to carry out their dastardly plans. They did it by doing what all of us take for granted and acting like a tourist. Now I grant you it's a bit much to deny any average tourist the right to photograph a police officer or the Royal Guards in London but then again as a tourist we should also be aware of what we're photographing and where.

I guarantee that if you go to some of the Government buildings in Washington and start taking an unusual number of pictures of the main gates or the security gate, you will soon be approached by Secret Service or the police wanting to know who you are and why you are there. There's nothing wrong with their wanting to know because they are doing their jobs. Sure it may seem inane to us in an age where information is readily available and sure we may think it's ridiculous that such regulations are being passed but I'd prefer such things to occur if it means preventing future attacks and ensuring the safety of everyone regardless of whether they are a tourist or a resident.



Post a Comment

<< Home