["Boston gas tank" by Lasart75 - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Boston_gas_tank.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Boston_gas_tank.JPG]
It’s rare that a big, albeit colorful, gas tank becomes a local landmark. But that is the case in Boston, where the tank pictured above sits just off of Interstate 93 on the southern approach to the city. Lots of people take lots of photos of this particular piece of critical infrastructure. Apparently, one got in a lot of trouble for it. Boston.com reporter Roberto Scalese has the story:
We’re not sure what professional photographer James Prigoff called the tank in 2004, when he decided to photograph it from public property. In a post on the ACLU’s website, Prigoff recalled the security guards who demanded he stop taking the photos, saying the tank was on private property. After that encounter, he went home to California and found a Joint Terrorism Task Force agent’s business card on his front door.
There is some simple beauty to the “see something, say something” message, however there are inadvertent negative consequences as well. What some may deem suspicious, the photographing of critical infrastructure for example, others deem art. In fact, I would argue that for every terrorist plot alleged to have been uncovered since 9/11, I could find you two artists within the Greater Boston area alone who photograph, draw, paint, sketch, or otherwise utilize images of what is considered critical infrastructure in their work. Should they all be registered with the government?
If this was simply the case of some over zealous security officers, I could understand. But according to the ACLU, this type of thing stays on your permanent record:
SARs can haunt people for decades, as they remain in federal databases for up to 30 years. An individual who is the subject of a SAR is automatically subjected to law enforcement scrutiny.
Somewhat disturbing, right?