Hi, 911? I see somebody using a map!

Dang, Chicago, I thought you were cool. Much cooler than Boston, which goes all flaky at the sight of illuminated cartoon characters.
Turns out Chicago is giving Boston a run for its money in terms of silly security. This Winter Holdiay Public Awareness bulletin reads, in part:

It is important to immediately report any or all of the below suspect activities…
Physical Surveillance (note taking, binocular use, cameras, video, maps) …

I’ll grant that some of the other stuff seems reasonable to report. But…c’mon…maps? This is just goofy. I’m tired of these petty attempts at turning normal urban people into a surveillance network. Those who should make our nation a beacon of freedom are doing the work of those who would see this nation fall. They should take a break, go watch Brazil, or read Farthing, and I hope the clue stick hits ’em on the way out.
And I should have known better about Chicago, after Daley had Meigs field bulldozed in the middle of the night back in 2003. Meigs lives on in my memory as the home field for the subLOGIC flight simulator that lived on the Commodore 64 in the basement of my youth. I kinda miss it, in all its 8-bit, 3-frames-per-second glory.
(A tip of the tuque to Boingboing for the security bulletin link)

3 thoughts on “Hi, 911? I see somebody using a map!

  1. Yes Officer, I am using binoculars–because without them I can’t tell if people are taking notes.

  2. Alas, it seems no one is impervious to movie-plot security, not even my home town. Maps and note-taking are new ones on me (does that mean I can’t take notes in class either??). But the camera bit has been going around for a while now: a quick search revealed pages and pages of stories from people who were disallowed by police from taking pictures in various public places, usually subways etc. Of course, there’s no actual law that prohibits picture-taking in these places. But that doesn’t seem to matter. The officers/security people in question keep doing this, and probably pat themselves on the back afterwards for possibly having averted a national calamity. After all, You Never Know.
    Whenever such topics come up, I go back to this essay. Unfortunately, I seem to be in the minority in agreeing with him.

  3. I follow Schneier’s blog and find myself agreeing with him a lot, though he offers a lot of criticism but not a lot of solid alternatives. He has the luxury of not needing to be seen as “doing something” in order to keep his job…unlike the politicians. Unfortunately it’s all too easy to do something without accomplishing anything.

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