Cross Posted from Better Nation.
So, you’re on the Glasgow subway with some friends and one of them does something cute or funny or otherwise worth recording for posterity. You take out your phone to capture the moment…..
Passengers must not take photographs, or make video audio or visual recordings on any part of the subway.
There is a get out clause – but it involves you obtaining the written permission of SPT in advance. So much for spontaneity.
This brings to mind the situation under the last Labour Westminster Government when amateur photographers were apprehended by Police under the controversial Section 44 of the Terrorism Act. This report from the Independent summarises how people innocently taking photographs of public buildings, tourist attractions and even a fish and chip shop found themselves being stopped and searched. By and large, although the law applied in Scotland, it was largely ignored. I wrote in 2010 that while over 200,000 people had been stopped south of the border, only 79 searches had been recorded here.
I always tend to take the view that if an authority is given a power, it will use it.That’s why we need to make sure that any powers they have are both necessary and proportionate. Why, then, do SPT want this photo ban? According to Amateur Photograper, SPT said:
Our company policy has always been that consent must be sought prior to any photography taking place, and this is in line with security restrictions at any major transport hub, including railway stations, airports etc.
It also allows us to ensure that any such activity does not disrupt the operations of the network in any way.
How on earth the group of friends in my example could potentially disrupt the operation of the network in any way is beyond me.
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie was quick to condemn the proposals:
Whichever bright spark came up with this needs to be told to drop it. This kind of nonsense distracts from the real fight against crime and terrorism.
We have seen what happened in the past under the old Labour government. People were arrested under terrorism laws for wearing t-shirts lampooning Tony Blair or for shouting ‘nonsense’ at a conference. Strathclyde needs some strong liberal voices to shout ‘nonsense’ at this plan.
On Twitter, Education Secretary Mike Russell described the plan as “Utterly daft.”
I’m sure that many people who aren’t involved in politics will agree that this restriction is ridiculous.