Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Kuwait bans DSLR cameras countrywide… for no obvious reason

In a strange and unexplained move, three of Kuwait’s ministries have banned the use of DSLR cameras in the Middle East country, specifically in streets or in malls.

The joint offense against DSLRs was launched by Kuwait’s Ministry of Information, Ministry of Social Affairs and Ministry of Finance, and what’s interesting here is that it’s not a ban on photography in total: cell phone cameras and point-and-shoot digicams are still totally fine. Even micro four thirds and other mirrorless cameras are fine. It’s only if your camera has a mirror do you have to worry about it being banned.

Identification-carrying photojournalists are not subject to the law, but everyone else is, and so far, the Kuwaiti government hasn’t been forthcoming in explaining why DSLRs, in particular, are banned.

It’s not uncommon, of course, for governments to ban camera use around embassies, banks and monuments, fearing that the photos will be used by terrorists planning attacks. Again, though, Kuwait is not banning photography in specific places, or photography even in general: only DSLRs are subject to the ban.

Here’s my best guess: the Kuwaiti Government thinks that the larger form factor of a DSLR would allow terrorists to disguise a firearm or a bomb as one. Still, without a specific threat being publicly confronted, it’s hard not to be mystified by the Kuwaiti governments’ prohibition…. and perhaps chalk it up to some politicians’ sensitivity about his lack of photogeniality than any terrorist attack.


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