Secret List of Buildings You Can’t Photograph

bay bridge, san francisco

I took this photo of the Bay Bridge from the Ferry Building. But a while ago when my daughter was at the Ferry Building she was accosted by a security guy as she was shooting pictures. I suppose much of my photography is travel photography, whereas Ellen is more of an art photographer. So she might shoot unusual subjects, sometimes from odd perspectives. In this case she appears to have pointed her camera the wrong way, because a security guy grabbed her and tried to intimidate her with a a lot of questions. Then he took her to his supervisor, and together they continued the interrogation, which ended with them taking down a lot of her personal information.

Well, it turns out the Department of Homeland Security has a secret list of buildings that must not be photographed — but they won’t release the list. Marc Fisher quotes a police chief in the Washington Post:

I am certainly not implying that a person taking photographs is inherently “suspicious,” but when the appearance is that the subject of a photograph is a government installation, officers have a duty to ensure the safety of the occupants of this structure.

To which Fisher replies:

Hmmm. Any government installation? This overly broad approach to security is why we end up with ridiculous horror stories about innocent tourists getting hassled for taking photos of the Lincoln Memorial or the Department of the Interior … utterly ignoring the fact that the Soviet empire collapsed under the weight of its own paranoid security apparatus….

Boing Boing
Washington Post

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  1. Nancy

    What a bunch of idiots! The paranoia and power in the hands of the stupid has just grown by leaps and bounds during this period, hasn’t it? I take my little camera with with me everywhere but find that I am super careful when I’m around any government buildings, etc. I am taking a class on SF Neighborhoods and we were hassled by the guards when our class went into the building last week. What jerks – as if a bunch of retired, obviously grey and white haired men and women pose any threat to safety. Of course, maybe I look more dangerous that I know? Do you suppose that Wonderwoman really lurks underneath my rather average 60+ year old self?

  2. I think Wonderwoman probably lurks there, but is she a terrorist?

  3. Nancy

    Wonderwoman’s mission is to save the world for democracy (one person at a time), rescue the weak and revolutionize the image of middle aged women as smart, feisty and out to do GOOD (no lovers of guns, bombs or violence need apply)! We may not look that good in the traditional clothes; well, who could look better than Linda Carter but who you gonna call? “Save me, Oh Wonder woman!” Obi Wan Kinobi is so yesterday!