Bugged by security at Westfield Garden State Plaza for taking photos

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by JohnCM, Jun 12, 2004.

  1. JohnCM

    JohnCM Guest

    Well I had an encounter with security at the Westfield Shoppingtown
    Garden State Plaza in Paramus, NJ this week. I was shopping at the
    mall and decided to take a photo of one of their water fountains.
    Within seconds of taking my picture a security guard asks me if I have
    permission to photograph. I repied "I'm sorry I didnt, I did not know
    there is a rule against photography". The guard said permission was
    needed. I replied "OK, I'm sorry I didnt know I wont take anymore
    photos, didnt see any rules posted within the mall prohibiting
    photography". OK I wasnt that annoyed since alot of malls dont like
    photography in their mall.
    But then the guard asked for ID. I was miffed since this was none of
    his business. I just said I didnt have any and he finally left me
    alone after asking "you dont have a driver license, even a business
    Annoyed, I went to the customer service desk to complain. The
    gentlemen there said "since 9/11 photos are banned". I said I wanted
    it in writing. He said they do not have the rule in writing. He then
    directed me to the mall managemt offices. I did also add I'm sick of
    people using the "9/11 excuse", as it seems common these days (I've
    also been questioned on public property such as railroad stations,
    according to cops, for that very same reason). Tourists take pictures,
    and many of us, do it as a hobby. Why punish us? Terrorists dont need
    pictures, and if they took them they'd have hidden cameras (which have
    been around for a loooong time). And besides, at least on public
    property, photography should always be legal.
    Anyway I went down to the mall management office. I told the
    receptionist what happened and she said they didnt have a written rule
    either. I asked to speak with someone in mall management. I explained
    what happened. According to the gentleman, photography for personal
    use is not banned, but is questioned on a "case by case" basis by
    security guards. I proceeded to tell him that I often come here to
    shop and when I occasionally have my camera on me, I'll take a photo,
    and that I only do it because I find this mall one of the prettiest in
    the area, and I shop here alot because the stores are the best. Which
    he replied "I'm glad". (of course, who wouldn't mind me complimenting
    their mall).
    He did say the security officer had no right to ask for my ID, and
    will look into that. That is what I had a problem with. I said "malls
    are private property and have every right to restrict photography, but
    asking for ID is an invasion of my privacy". He agreed and said that
    the mall is private property. I said I was more miffed with banning
    photos in public places, and the whole idea that "photographers are
    terrorists". He said again that usually people casually taking photos
    in the mall shouldn't be bothered, but added some stores dont like
    their storefronts photographed. I think he suggested the next time I
    plan on taking photos to come down to the office and get permission
    first. I dont think I'll be taking photos of that mall anymore though,
    the whole ID thing was really nosy. It's not worth it, besides, I've
    got enough good photos of the fountains and skylights.
    All in all although this is a blemish on the otherwise enjoyable trips
    I've had to Garden State Plaza, management seemed quite polite and
    friendly about it, compared to the stories of others I've heard.
    Other mall companies do have rules banning filming and photography,
    like Simon, so if you take photos you do so at your own risk.
    JohnCM, Jun 12, 2004
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  2. JohnCM

    Mxsmanic Guest

    The guard could call the police if he really needs your ID; he can't
    compel you to provide it yourself. Did you ask for his ID? For some
    reason guards are often brave enough to harass you, but too cowardly to
    identify themselves when asked--if they are so sure of what they are
    doing, why do they wish to remain anonymous?
    Decorative fountains are probably priority targets for terrorists these
    days, and everyone knows that the only possible way to learn anything
    about them is to take photographs of them.
    Then the rule doesn't exist at all.
    A lot of people want more control, and antiterrorism is a great excuse
    for grabbing it, whether it's pictures or any other type of civil
    At least he was correct about that.
    The higher you go on a management ladder, the more rational people tend
    to be, because higher-ranking employees tend to be more intelligent than
    lower-ranking employees. There are spectacular exceptions, though,
    especially in organizations where merit is not the primary or only
    reason for promotions.
    Mxsmanic, Jun 12, 2004
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  3. JohnCM

    Tasslehoff Guest

    get over it.

    Tasslehoff, Jun 12, 2004
  4. JohnCM

    Mxsmanic Guest

    And throw your rights away in the process.
    Mxsmanic, Jun 12, 2004
  5. Now that is a leap of faith. I suspect it is more a matter that they
    seem that way because unlike the guard who was given his instructions and is
    told to just follow them and management understand the rule better and tend
    to take it on themselves to adjust the rule as needed, while the guard is
    told he has no authority to adjust it. It is also likely the rule has been
    corrupted as it came down the line especially since it was not written.

    BTW it is very true that many retail outlets (especially chains) do not
    want any photographs of their displays etc. It's silly, but it is part of
    the game. It also is another example of my first suggestion that management
    is not more rational than their employees. BTW I was management before
    Joseph Meehan, Jun 12, 2004
  6. JohnCM

    Tom Scales Guest

    I guess I am confused. I understand this annoys the original poster, but it
    IS private property.

    1) They can ask you to stop taking pictures
    2) They can ask for your ID, but obviously you don't have to provide it
    3) They can, and will, ban you from the mall even if just on a whim

    Private property.

    9/11 or not, they can do it; it is not illegal and your only recourse is to
    stop going to their mall.
    Tom Scales, Jun 12, 2004
  7. JohnCM

    Poster666 Guest

    Mxsmanic wrote:

    A security guard in Belgium, can ask you for your ID. If you don't want, or
    can't show it, they are allowed to "remove" you from the terrain, ofcourse
    not with violence, unless you are a threat to them. On the other hand, every
    guard has a special ID-card. This ID-card is normally placed visible on the
    guard's body, but if you ask to see it, they don't have to show it. As a
    matter of fact, guard training programs say that only the ID has to be
    showed to the police and gouvernement control, so not to "civilians".


    In Belgium, and maybe in all of Europe, photographing at public places is
    allowed, even if there are signs that say "do not photograph". I am not
    quite sure, as it is a long time ago that I've seen that part of the law.
    But ofcourse, every human being with common sense wouldn't go out,
    photographing NATO buildings and army stuff without expecting trouble.


    Again, in the country where I live, the selection criteria for guards are
    quite high. This way they can make sure the quality of the service brought
    by the guard companies is one of a high standard.

    Poster666, Jun 12, 2004
  8. JohnCM

    Mxsmanic Guest

    Demographics support it. In organizations with merit-based promotion
    and hiring, the smartest people tend to occupy the positions with the
    greatest responsibility or requiring the highest skill levels.
    No, they are probably smarter than the guard, which probably isn't
    saying much.
    The rule is probably imaginary to begin with.
    If someone wants to take photos, they can do it a lot more discreetly.
    And they don't need photos to note the layout of the displays.
    Mxsmanic, Jun 12, 2004
  9. JohnCM

    Poster666 Guest


    You don't have to, but they will ask you to leave the mall. When not obeing,
    they call the police, which will make you leave the mall. When you start
    pushing the guard, or another physical contact, they can make you leave with
    force, as it is normally seen as self defense, since you started.


    9/11 is my birthday, and it makes me feel sad that a) some terrorists used
    that date for their actions and b) people use/abuse the date now. The mall
    won't bother if you never come back, they don't feel that, because they have
    loads of customers.

    Poster666, Jun 12, 2004
  10. JohnCM

    Mxsmanic Guest

    Not quite, although they can ban you in some ways under some conditions.
    If the place is open to the public, everyone must meet the same
    conditions to enter, and if you meet those conditions, they have to let
    you in.
    Mxsmanic, Jun 12, 2004
  11. JohnCM

    Tom Scales Guest


    "We reserve the right to refuse service......"

    Perfectly within their rights. As long as they are not discriminating base
    on a limited set of criteria (Race, gender, etc.) they absolutely can ban
    you and not serve you.

    Tom Scales, Jun 12, 2004
  12. JohnCM

    Ray Paseur Guest


    In and around the national mall areas of Washington, DC, you need a permit
    to erect a tripod. This simple rule provides an endless amount of work for
    Park Service security guards who are ever on the lookout for tourists that
    want a nice picture of their kids in front of the US Capitol.
    Ray Paseur, Jun 12, 2004
  13. JohnCM

    Krow Guest

    How soon you all forget! After 9-11 nothing will ever be the same...
    nowhere. You don't think the possibility exists that those responsible
    for the WTC, the bombing of the mall in Saudi Arabia, etc, would not
    consider blowing up a mall in the US? Think about it. What better way
    for them to instill terror into the hearts of the average citizen.

    You can rest assured any terrorist operation will be well-planned. Of
    course they will have photos (possibly taken under the premise of
    shooting a fountain!), and plans, and schedules, and...

    And there are other less-than-legitimate reasons for photographing
    buildings besides terrorism - planning a robbery, an
    abduction/kidnapping or other criminal behaviour. Get you head out of
    the sand. Bad things do happen.
    BS! Maybe you had the right to refuse to supply it, but he had all the
    right in the world to ask for it.
    The guard had no idea who you were or what you were doing. He was
    simply doing his job, and probably for a lot less money than the
    aggravation of dealing with some people is worth. By the time you had
    gone to a few other levels, of course they knew you were not somebody
    who was intent on doing them harm, you were just a ....

    Think about it - its just a matter of understanding the guy has a job to
    do and complying - "Yes sir, here's my ID." What's the big deal! You
    could have been on your way, or even taking the photos you wanted in 15
    secs. Jeesh! how much time did you spend going from level to level?
    What did it accomplish? Nothing. Everyone politely nodded their heads
    and agreed with you... made you feel your complaint was justified, and
    you went away happy.

    Do you have any idea what those nice, polite people had to say to their
    coworkers after they finally got rid of you? Think they said, "Now
    there goes a fine gentleman! Wish we had more like that!" Do you think
    they immediately issued a directive telling their security to not check
    people they saw doing things out of the ordinary or involved in
    behaviour that could as well be a prelude to criminal activity? Of
    course not! Next time, if you get the same guard, he will likely not
    bother you (if he's satisfied you're not a terrorist), but another one
    might very well do the same thing - that's his job. And you might
    complain again and walk away happy again. And if the guard stops doing
    his job, he'll be replaced.

    Think what would happen if there was an attack on a mall, bridge, office
    building, stadium... whatever, and afterwards it came out that people
    were seen in the weeks previous photographing the place. What if nobody
    even asked these people who they were or took other steps to identify
    them - license plate numbers, video, etc? You can bet there would be
    some outcry then!

    If everyone in the world were as civil-minded as yourselves... were
    model citizens in other words... I agree there would be no need for
    these very minor inconveniences such as being asked to supply ID. The
    fact is, terrorists or not, there are people out there who do not have
    your well-being as their priority. People that are committing crimes
    and hiding behind your civil rights.

    Years ago we thought it impossible that anyone could even contemplate
    flying a plane into a building full of innocent people. Those images on
    the TV were not those of an old movie that is now in the dollar rack at
    the rental store or being rerun on TV in the wee hours of the morning.
    They were real. It really happened. I can happen again; we're fools if
    we think otherwise.

    By the way, do you remember the criticism on the news after the attacks?
    Remember the buck-passing? It seemed every security guard at every
    boarder crossing and airport - even at schools and motels - somehow
    messed up and didn't pick up on something they should. You would have
    thought these people had been shouting out, "We're going to hijack a few
    planes and fly them into the World Trade Centre." "Why didn't anyone
    check this? follow up on that?" "If (insert name of person at the
    bottom of the ladder) had been doing his/her job, they should have know
    (insert bad guy's name) was up to no good." From what was on the tube,
    the people involved in 9/11 should ahve been under constant surveillance
    for weeks or months prior to the attack.

    But these people had not committed any crime before 9/11. If some
    conscientious security person somewhere had picked up on their
    "suspicious" activity (taking flying lessons), Lord forbid if they had
    asked them for ID! They had the same rights to refuse that you did.

    Everyone has to do their part to minimize the probability by being extra
    vigilent and suspicious of anybody doing something out of the ordinary.
    No, they're not all criminals. Almost all of them are "just taking
    photos." The good ones realize that the very minor inconvenience of
    supplying ID is nothing compared to the severe restrictions that will be
    placed on everyones liberties should these types of attacks become

    If your mall gets blown up next week and you're lucky enough not to be
    there, I'm sure you would be the first to comply with any sort of
    security check thereafter. We must do whatever we can to keep safe.
    Wake up. The world is different. It will never be like it was.

    Sorry for the rant but I gues I just had to get this off of my chest.

    Krow, Jun 12, 2004
  14. JohnCM

    Ron Guest

    Just because someone says that they "reserve the right ..." doesn't mean
    that they have the "right" in the first place and are just relying on you
    thinking that they do have the "right".

    Ron P

    Sometimes you're the windshield:)
    Sometimes you're the bug:(
    Ron, Jun 12, 2004
  15. JohnCM

    Bill Turner Guest


    When you're on private property, the rules are whatever the owners say
    they are, provided they don't break any laws.

    In your home, do you have to write down a rule for it to be in effect?
    Bill Turner, Jun 12, 2004
  16. JohnCM

    Bill Turner Guest


    If real terrorists or criminals want these pictures, they are going to
    get them. Harassing ordinary civilians accomplishes nothing at all
    except to allow the bureaucrats to claim they are "doing something to
    combat terrorism".
    Bill Turner, Jun 12, 2004
  17. JohnCM

    Mxsmanic Guest

    That's not what I recall, but it has been a long time since I last
    looked into that, and it varies by jurisdiction. You sacrifice a
    certain amount of your ability to discriminate when you open an
    establishment to the public.
    Mxsmanic, Jun 12, 2004
  18. JohnCM

    Big Bill Guest

    In the US, most shopping malls are private property, with the public
    The management can, for whatever (legal) reason, rescind any
    individual's invitation; if you return, you can be arrested for
    One of the conditions for entry is an invitation.
    Bill Funk
    Change "g" to "a"
    Big Bill, Jun 12, 2004
  19. JohnCM

    Bluenose Guest

    Retail stores are typically considered open to all, however they can ban a
    specific customer based on cause. Essentially, the entire public is
    invited to a mall by virtue of it being open, however, individuals can be
    "dis-invited" by store/mall management, just the same as you choosing not
    to allow a certain person in your home.

    In the country and area I live and work in (district manager for a chain of
    stores), we have to ban customers once in a while, but the process has to
    involve the police and registered letters to be effective.

    Once that ban is established, the police can be called and lay a
    trespassing charge if the individual comes back.

    Obviously, this is only applied in extreme cases and and with the
    cooperation of the police. An example would be someone who is verbally or
    physically abusive with a staff member of the store, stalking or unwanted or
    improper advances.

    The banned individual could fight this through the courts, if they so
    Bluenose, Jun 12, 2004
  20. Actually, for many of us, it has been so for a very long time. The USA
    (<5% of the world, BTW) was just rather lucky to be late experiencing
    it, and, like most latecomers, is understandably over-reacting somewhat.
    David Littlewood, Jun 12, 2004
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