Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Photography is protected by the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It also happens to be protected by the 16th Article of the Massachusetts Constitution. Nobody in their right mind would entertain the idea of applying for a permit to associate with their friends. Not in America. At least not yet.

For the same reason, I did not apply for an application to take photographs on the MBTA. It's a civil right. It's already mine.

After being stopped and interrogated by MBTA police for photography in the subway last month, after weeks of hounding the MBTA to actually disclose, in writing, what their policy IS on photography on the subway without a permit, after a dozen (or so) unanswered emails and about as many unreturned phone calls, this morning I spoke to Mary Logalbo, an MBTA lawyer. She specializes in Constitutional law.

Apparently Mrs. Logalbo obtained permission from the MBTA Deputy Police Chief Paul MacMillan to fax me a DRAFT COPY of their photography policy. It expressly allows amateur photography on the MBTA but requires that you provide ID upon request, photography of the subject cannot pose a security risk, the activity of shooting cannot disrupt MBTA operations and the pictures must be for strictly non-commercial use only.

No more background check.

No more one-month expiration.

John Reinstein and the ACLU deserve a lot of credit for forcing the MBTA to reconsider the policy and put it on legally defensible footing. Note the "original issue date" of 2006 -- this policy was likely written in response to Reinstein's letter to MBTA Police Chief Joseph Carter in June of that year. All my yapping did, I suspect, is get me a copy of the draft before anyone else.

You can find a copy of the draft policy here.

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