Expect this law to be abused and unfairly targeted towards certain ethic minorities. The fact that the city deliberately kept the language vague means that many amateur photographers will be caught by this legislation.
This crackdown on on photographers started unofficially without much thought after 9/11 in an attempt to keep terrorists from being able to photograph sensitive locations. Now it will become official.
Preventing photography is an impossible task as cameras keep getting smaller, and more common; any brain-dead terrorist could easily manage to photograph sensitive information and these new rules will not change that. Authorities should assume that any site visible from public locations will be photographed, and no laws will be able to change that.
New rules being considered by the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting would require any group of two or more people who want to use a camera in a single public location for more than a half hour to get a city permit and insurance.
The same requirements would apply to any group of five or more people who plan to use a tripod in a public location for more than 10 minutes, including the time it takes to set up the equipment.
Julianne Cho, assistant commissioner of the film office, said the rules were not intended to apply to families on vacation or amateur filmmakers or photographers.
Nevertheless, the New York Civil Liberties Union says the proposed rules, as strictly interpreted, could have that effect. The group also warns that the rules set the stage for selective and perhaps discriminatory enforcement by police.
“These rules will apply to a huge range of casual photography and filming, including tourists taking snapshots and people making short videos for YouTube,” said Christopher Dunn, the group’s associate legal director.
Mr. Dunn suggested that the city deliberately kept the language vague, and that as a result police would have broad discretion in enforcing the rules…
Mr. Dunn said that the civil liberties union asked repeatedly for such a distinction [between amateur and professional] in negotiations on the rules but that city officials refused, ostensibly to avoid creating loopholes that could be exploited by professional filmmakers and photographers.