Ansel Adams Act

Photography is Not A Crime
Photography is Not A Crime.

An unexpected surprise from Tea Party stalwart, Steve Stockman of the 36th district of Texas. [edit – Rep Stockman is no longer in office]

To restore the First Amendment Rights of Photographers.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the “Ansel Adams Act”.


Congress finds as follows: (1) In recent years, the Federal Government has enacted regulations to prohibit or restrict photography in National Parks, public spaces, and of government buildings, law enforcement officers, and other government personnel carrying out their duties. (2) In recent years, photographers on Federal lands and spaces have been threatened with seizure and forfeiture of photographic equipment and memory cards, and have been arrested or threatened with arrest for merely recording what the eye can see from public spaces. (3) Even in the absence of laws or regulations, Federal law enforcement officers, other government personnel, and private contractors have been instructed to prohibit photography from public spaces, and threatened photographers with arrest or seizure of photographic equipment. (4) Arresting photographers, seizing photographic equipment, and requirements to obtain permits, pay fees, or buy insurance policies are abridgments of freedom of speech and of the press. (5) The First Amendment of the United States Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”. (6) Still and motion photographs are speech. (7) The photography by Ansel Adams and other famous photographers helped bring home to Americans the beauty and fragility of our natural resources. (8) Ansel Adams’ photographs helped build public support to make Yosemite into a National Park. (9) Future “Ansel Adams” must not have their paths blocked, regulated and made more expensive with fees and fines, or be threatened with arrest and seizure of their equipment.


(a) In General.–It is contrary to the public policy of the United States to prohibit or restrict photography in public spaces, whether for private, news media, or commercial use. (b) Should a Federal agency seek to restrict photography of its installations or personnel, it shall obtain a court order that outlines the national security or other reasons for the restriction. Such court order shall allow restrictions of photography when such photography may lead to the endangerment of public safety or national security. Nothing in this Act shall restrict Federal agencies from taking lawful steps to ascertain whether or not photography may consist of reconnaissance for the purpose of endangerment of public safety or national security or for other unlawful activity. Nothing in this Act shall be construed to repeal, invalidate, or supersede section 795 of title 18, United States Code. (c) Prohibition on Fees, Permits, or Insurance.–No Federal Government agency shall require fees, permits or insurance as a condition to take still or moving images on Federal lands, National Parks and Forests, and public spaces, whether for private, media, or commercial use. (d) Prohibition on the Seizure and Forfeiture of Photographic Equipment.–Federal law enforcement officers or private contractors shall not seize any photographic equipment or their contents or memory cards or film, and shall not order a photographer to erase the contents of a camera or memory card or film.

(click here to continue reading Text – H.R.5893 – 113th Congress (2013-2014): Ansel Adams Act | | Library of Congress.)

Since it is something proposed by Rep. Stockman, I’m suspicious of the fine print, but from a brief glance, this is a welcomed law. 

Protecting Boeing from Evil Photographers
Protecting Boeing from Evil Photographers

I wonder if it will curtail the propensity of certain security firms from blocking photography. Boeing is the most obvious culprit, but there are other buildings where a photographer is nearly always harassed from taking a photo, even when standing on the public sidewalk.


In the United States, the work of photographers and photojournalists is protected under the 1st Amendment which states: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. And, in a perfect world, the constitutional rights granted by the amendment would never be violated. But, perfect the world is not and it seems like photographers are being unjustly accosted on a regular basis.

Think of all the news stories you’ve read that pretty much read the same: a photographer from Any City, USA was arrested, threatened with arrest, threatened with seizure of equipment, or otherwise harassed for exercising their First Amendment right of taking photos in a public place. A quick search on DIYP alone using the “Photography Is Not A Crime” keyword yields you a dizzying amount of such stories. Not to mention the motions made by the Federal Government, which restrict and sometimes prohibit photography in National Parks.

(click here to continue reading The Ansel Adams Act Goes To Congress; Details Clear Laws Protecting 1st Amendment Rights Of Photographers – DIY Photography.)


edit, and I don’t know how I missed this, but this bill was put on the floor in the 113th Congress, and Steve Stockman didn’t win election to the 114th Congress, so I’m guessing the dream is dead…

CPD Sued to Force Release Proof of Cell Phone Spying

 City of Chicago Emergency Management Surveillance Vehicle

City of Chicago Emergency Management Surveillance Vehicle, probably with a Stingray device (taken at a Haymarket Riot Demonstration).

Remember those quaint old days when the United States had a Bill of Rights? And civil liberties were commonly respected?1

Attorney Matt Topic of Loevy & Loevy filed a suit against the Chicago Police Department last week. 

The Chicago Police Department was sued Friday to force release of evidence that the department has purchased equipment that allows them to covertly scan people’s cell phones for detecting telephone numbers dialed and texted, tracking their location, and cell phones’ unique device identification numbers.

Cell site simulators, also known as IMSI catchers or stingrays, masquerade as cellphone towers to obtain data secretly from nearby cellular user devices.

“Many believe that Chicago Police have already deployed this kind of technology at protests,” said Matt Topic of Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law, which represents Chicago resident Freddy Martinez in the suit.  “Local police departments in other states have widely used the technology, and have kept it secret, even to the courts, and even when it has been used to obtain evidence in a criminal case.”

“If the Chicago Police aren’t running afoul of the Fourth Amendment, they should have nothing to hide,” said Mr. Martinez. “This information will allow the public to learn the extent to which Chicago Police have this technology, and once we have that, we’ll pursue more information about how it is being used and whether Chicago Police are routinely using it to violate the Constitution.”

Mr. Martinez filed a FOIA request with Chicago Police looking for records documenting the purchase of this equipment.  “FOIA and the Illinois Constitution are clear that all records related to the use of public funds are subject to disclosure,” said Topic, “yet Chicago Police have stonewalled Mr. Martinez for months.”

(click here to continue reading CPD Sued to Force Release Proof of Cell Phone Spying | Blog | Loevy & Loevy.)

and as Mr. Martinez says:

“Should federal, state, or local law enforcement be allowed to trick your cell phone into sharing information like your location, the numbers your called or texted, or your unique device ID without your consent?” asked Martinez. “Should they be deploying this kind of technology in secret? We don’t think so.”

Copies of the suit, No. 2014CH09565, are available here: Freddie Martinez v. Chicago Police Department.

Officer with Blackberry
CPD Officer with Blackberry

From the suit, some additional background material, some of which we’ve blogged about, some not.

Continue reading “CPD Sued to Force Release Proof of Cell Phone Spying”

  1. as long as you were a white property owner []

JFK gets schooled on Chicago-style politics

Was it a golden time for  politics? Or is it just that our current toxic political climate is so much worse than anyone could imagine? I cannot imagine President Obama having this frank of a discussion with Mayor Bloomberg of NYC for instance…

Picasso on The Cross
Picasso on The Cross, Daley Plaza

Clarence Page reports:

I came across a telling example of how Boss Daley’s talents of persuasion could come in handy as a force for good behind one of my favorite pieces of legislation: the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In Chris Matthews’ new bestseller, “Elusive Hero,” the NBC and MSNBC talk-show host excerpts transcripts of a taped conversation between Daley and John F. Kennedy. The president was rounding up votes for the civil rights bill in late October 1963.

It was two months after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic march on Washington — and only a month, it would turn out, before Kennedy would be killed in Dallas.

On this day, the White House taping system picked up Kennedy asking Daley for help. Rep. Roland V. Libonati, a Chicago Democrat like Daley, was holding up the act, Kennedy said. The congressman wanted a tougher bill. The trouble was that if Libonati had his way, the bill would lose the Republican support it needed to survive opposition from southern segregationist Democrats.

“He’ll vote for it,” Daley said calmly. “He’ll vote for any (expletive) thing you want.”

Kennedy laughs. “Well,” he said, “can you get him?”

“I surely can,” said Daley, who added later, “He’ll do it. The last time I, I told him, ‘Now look it, I don’t give a (expletive) what it is, you vote for it, for anything the president wants and this is the way it will be and this (is) the way it’s gonna be.'”

That, as the old-timers used to say, is how you get things done in the city.

(click here to continue reading JFK gets schooled on Chicago-style politics –