Saturday, June 30, 2007

UK Terror Attacks

This shot was taken by someone at Glasgow Airport and posted, along with pictures from other travellers caught-up in the attack, on the BBC web site. These pictures convey what was going on as well as anything from CNN could, and they were being posted within minutes of the crash thanks to cell phones and high-speed networks. The democratisation of photography that the digital revolution has brought us is an unstoppable force, and in my view it's a force for good.
However, that basic right to take pictures in a public place is going to increasingly become curtailed. As Mike over at The Online Photographer highlighted, NYC is proposing to limit what kinds of photography will be allowed in public places, and how long can be spent preparing and shooting both video and still shots.
This is all being done in the name of preventing terror attacks, of course, but no one can explain quite how that will work. Do we have any evidence that video or still images have contributed to such attacks? Have any attacks been foiled because the authorities have caught & prosecuted prospective terrorists apprehended while on a reconnaissance mission? And if you think this is indeed a logical step that will make us all safer, what about other, equally valid moves that must also then be taken such as banning cell phone use in public in case the perpetrators are calling in situation reports, or there's a phone-based trigger device (as appears to be the case in London) primed and ready to go?
Knee-jerk legislation, the application of which will inevitably be left to interpretation by local police, is not the way to make a difference here. As London has decided, and rightly so in my view, you are much better off installing your own video surveillance equipment and allowing people to go about their daily business unencumbered.
Banning private citizens from using cameras won't stop anyone from undertaking these attacks; allowing us all to take pictures at any time, might, though, help to capture both the incident itself and the perpetrators.


I said...

I have a mixed view on this one.

Yes i like the ability to take photos in the open, but i don't like "joe public" sending in lots of pictures to the media - who in the uk - play them out 24hrs-a-day on loop. I think this just gives the terroritst what they want - media coverage - that spreads more fear and doubt. I would give the law enforcement the pictures but not let the media broadcast them.

Watching Sky and BBC news24 they have really have blown the glasgow incident way out of order. Yes it's important but they dropped the coverage of 27,000 homes and businesses still effected by floods and an insurance bill of £1bn into touch. The flooding has had more impact on more people in the UK, but if you went out at the moment and asked "Joe public" they would be more fearfull of people driving buring cars into airport terminals than they are of the rain. I know which one is a bigger risk at the moment. And it's not a buring 4x4 with gas canisters in it!

It's the media showing images repeatedly that makes this terrible event even more terrible!

J said...

Agreed that the media are often completely over the top on these things, especially here. Worse, they end up showing the same few seconds of blurry video time and time again, even when it didn't add much to one's knowledge of events in the first place. (Did you see the cellphone video shots of a ploice car chasing the doctor they arrested down the motorway? Completely worthless.) However, I think we are stuck with it. Citizen photojournalism is here to stay, and in the rush to be the first big network on your block with footage for the 6 o'clock news then nothing will be deemed to be too grainy, blurry or even irrelevant for broadcasting.

I bet you can't even get close to a UK airport right now! But as someone said, a frightened populace is much easier to control than one that sleeps securely in it's bed at night.

I said...

True true re: frightened populos, although some people are still stupid. 4 asian lads in a car failed to stop at london city airport for the police. They we yanked out of the car and it was videoed. I laughed the stupid gits. Good job the police (who were armed) didn't shoot. What these fools need is a kick in the arse for being stupid.

We have all sorts of images on the box from quick hi-res photo's, videos from cellphones and video graphic reconstructions. The police seem to be making quick progress and i think the media are shocked as there story will dry up as we move to the next stage - preparing the case for court. This is the worst time for the media as there is no details given out by the authorities.

J said...

I didn't hear about this one - how stupid is that?? A few seconds bravado before you find out the police have MP5s and are in an extremely jumpy mood (as they might well be.) By all accounts, this happened regularly in the early days in Iraq and Israel.

Yup, be interesting to see how things develop from here and what the media coverage looks like. Keep us in the loop will 'ya?

I said...

Turns out all those arrested work for the NHS. Thats the headlines at the moment. Not too sure if its the headlines or educated doctors that's bugging people :)

Travel in and around LHR is a nightmare by all accounts. One of my guys was on the way to CDG at 5am to come see me today and he got email from BA saying flight was cancelled. We suspect it was because T4 was evacuated yesterday with flights cancelled etc. We suspect plans in wrong places today!

The disruption is big, just what the terroritsts wanted i guess! Ho hum.

J said...

Thanks for the update. I saw on the BBC web site that T4 was evacuated yesterday. I heard that earlier in the week, and right after the attack in Glasgow, that you couldn't get to within half-a-mile of Edinburgh airport, forcing passengers instead to walk the last half mile.

As you say, I guess that's what they were hoping for, at least as a lasting by-product of whatever devastation they had in mind for the original attacks.

Sad that with all the advantages of being intelligent, educated and employed in a socially responsbile position that individuals can be so deluded by some distorted notion of what their particular religion demands as to perpetrate something like this.

Let me know if they implement any other travel restrictions!