Wednesday, July 27, 2005

#178 - Non-Issue Alert!

So it appears that New York's MTA has created a database. While I understand Drudge's interest in the story, I don't think this one is nearly as disturbing as civil libertarians will try to make it seem.

The database concerns people who have been questioned as to why they were photographing New York tunnels and bridges. MTA officials make no bones about their motivation: they wish to avoid the same kind of terrorist attacks that have nearly crippled London public transport in recent weeks.

According the the Daily News story, interestingly, no one appears to be terribly upset about being asked to show and explain their photography to law enforcement. One person interviewed was unaware of anyone having refused to cooperate so far. This is all to the good, of course, but it raises an interesting question. Just how likely are they to make note of every single bridge or tunnel photographer in a huge metropolitan city with hundreds of thousands of potential tourist-photographers milling about during the summer travel months?

Still, with heightened alert levels in force, and constant exhortations to maintain vigilance and report any suspected activity, I expect that MTA and other law enforcement types will be kept plenty busy following up on leads. To their credit, the lack of complaints from those who have been questioned thus far shows an amazing restraint. This is, after all, the city where citizens have been known on occasion to shoot wrong-doers by way of assisting an over-burdened police force. I'm guessing this is indicative of an acceptance on their part that the rules have changed a bit. Living that close to 9/11 may have increased their sensitivity to security issues.

In any case, I'm hopeful that no one will try to make a civil rights issue out of this exercise. Me? I can always find pictures of bridges on the internet. So long as I don't download them, I'm safe.


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