Making You Shutter. Or Not.



Mayor Bloomberg and torturer Karimov in the mayor’s office in 2002. Bloomberg didn’t want you to see this photo. But he does want to stop the public — even groups as small as two people — from shooting film or video unless they have permits.

If Mike Bloomberg winds up running for president (only if Rudy Giuliani doesn’t win the GOP nomination), all the money in the world won’t save the billionaire New York mayor from the glare of bad publicity.

Unless he stops people from shooting pictures, video, or film. That’s exactly what Bloomberg (a one-person Green Party) is trying to do. One of his latest stunts would stunt others’ ability to shoot film or video or even pictures on New York’s streets.

Of course, in his own case, he likes to choose what pictures to show. For example, Bloomberg’s official website showed no photographic evidence back in 2002 that Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov, whose underlings have been known to boil people to death, had not only visited New York; the torturer had chatted with Bloomberg in the mayor’s office while the two posed for photos (see above). You could find the pictures only on Karimov’s Uzbekistan website.

Now, in a city full of film-and-video students armed with digital equipment, Bloomberg’s film office has a plan to stop crews as small as two people from taking pictures of anything on city streets. Here’s the New York Times‘s Colin Moynihan the other day in a story about protesters protesting Bloomberg’s clampdown:

The new rules, which were proposed by the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting, would require any group of two or more people who want to use a camera in a public place for more than 30 minutes to get a city permit and $1 million in liability insurance. The same requirements would apply to any group of five or more people who plan to use a tripod in a public location for more than 10 minutes, including the time it takes to set up the equipment. The permits would be free.

Yeah, free. Not free to shoot, but free of charge, except for purchasing the insurance. And no hassle, except for having to register with the government before you take pictures on the street.

Bloomberg did a fine job protecting the GOP from the public during the 2004 Republican National Convention. Central Park, the natural spot for half a million protesters, was off-limits, and demonstrators were herded like cattle in a feedlot.

A group called Picture New York is fighting the new restrictions. Sorry, don’t have any pictures of them.