Photo Attorney

Sep 21, 2008

Alert! Photographers Will Be Questioned For Taking Pics of Train

KSL.com reports that a photographer was questioned by police "for standing on the platform with a camera in hand" next to a train. Huh?

The TSA representative explained that it's ok to take photos of the train, as long as you aren't:

taking photographs of the way the train operates, in the sense of what kind of controls it has, the undercarriage of the train, the tracks, the way they are set up and how the train is rolling, switches. Unless they're going to be building a train, which I don't think they will, that's going to raise some suspicious nature," he said.

The news station reports from its interview of the TSA rep that if a person is caught taking such photos, "they'll be questioned by police" and "their name could also be turned over to the Department of Homeland Security."

The Standard Examiner reports: "Utah Transit Authority police say the names of two people taking suspicious pictures also have been referred to the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force since FrontRunner service began in April."

Note that even taking photos of the operations, controls, and undercarriage of a train is not illegal as long as you're not trespassing. As reported by the Standard Examiner: "If the person chooses not to talk to the officer, they can leave UTA property. The officer can't compel them (to provide personal information) unless there is a reasonable suspicion that there's a crime of some sort," Ross Larsen, chief of UTA police, said. "The person has their free right to not answer questions and walk from UTA property."

Check Bert Krages' Photographer's Right flyer and his book, "Legal Handbook for Photographers" (available through a link in the "Recommended Reading" section below, right-hand column) for more information on your rights.

Thanks to Don Millbranth and Cody Hilton for submitting this topic.