New DHS campaign targets photographers
It seems life for the photographer has become increasingly difficult over the last decade. Be it limiting the weight of carry-on gear on aircraft, no-photo rules at historic sites or even holding a camera in a park with children present, photographers seem to be targeted for their passion.
Now there is a brand-new issue of contention courtesy of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). According to a campaign by the DHS, photography might now be mistaken as a sign of terrorist activity. “Did you know photography and surveillance could be a sign of terrorism-related suspicious activity?” tweeted the DHS. “If you notice this, be sure to report it to local authorities.”
The tweet is part of the Department’s “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign, which encourages Americans to report “suspicious” behavior to local law enforcement agencies. Although the webpage does stipulate people should only report “behavior that is reasonably indicative of criminal activity related to terrorism,” the vagueness of the language has photographers concerned.
“When you look at what DHS identifies as the signs [and objects] of suspicious photography - ‘personnel, facilities, security features, or infrastructure’ it basically leaves squirrels as the only thing that’s safe to photograph,” said Frank LoMonte, the executive director of the University of Florida’s Brechner Center for Freedom of Information.
The “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign was launched in 2007 by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Since that time, permission has granted to more than 50 entities to adopt the slogan, including Homeland Security. One is afraid to ask what’s next…