With the advent of the technology age came cameras prominently displayed on every street corner, embedded in our laptop screens and carried by the majority of Americans in their purses or pockets.
Privacy advocates argued that cameras and microphones gave government officials unprecedented access into our private lives. To no avail, however, as federal, state and local government ramped up efforts to survey everything from rural streets to sporting events. We the people became desensitized and it seems we have willingly given up our rights to privacy, at least in public.
One group, however, who seems to have the government on their side because they feel their privacy in public is being violated are police officers, and states are stepping up prosecutions of those who have recorded videos of police officers in a not-so-good light:
In response to a flood of Facebook and YouTube videos that depict police abuse, a new trend in law enforcement is gaining popularity. In at least three states, it is now illegal to record any on-duty police officer.
Even if the encounter involves you and may be necessary to your defense, and even if the recording is on a public street where no expectation of privacy exists.
The legal justification for arresting the “shooter” rests on existing wiretapping or eavesdropping laws, with statutes against obstructing law enforcement sometimes cited. Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland are among the 12 states in which all parties must consent for a recording to be legal unless, as with TV news crews, it is obvious to all that recording is underway. Since the police do not consent, the camera-wielder can be arrested. Most all-party-consent states also include an exception for recording in public places where “no expectation of privacy exists” (Illinois does not) but in practice this exception is not being recognized.
The courts, however, disagree. A few weeks ago, an Illinois judge rejected a motion to dismiss an eavesdropping charge against Christopher Drew, who recorded his own arrest for selling one-dollar artwork on the streets of Chicago. Although the misdemeanor charges of not having a peddler’s license and peddling in a prohibited area were dropped, Drew is being prosecuted for illegal recording, a Class I felony punishable by 4 to 15 years in prison.
In short, recordings that are flattering to the police – an officer kissing a baby or rescuing a dog – will almost certainly not result in prosecution even if they are done without all-party consent. The only people who seem prone to prosecution are those who embarrass or confront the police, or who somehow challenge the law. If true, then the prosecutions are a form of social control to discourage criticism of the police or simple dissent.
When the police act as though cameras were the equivalent of guns pointed at them, there is a sense in which they are correct. Cameras have become the most effective weapon that ordinary people have to protect against and to expose police abuse. And the police want it to stop.
Happily, even as the practice of arresting “shooters” expands, there are signs of effective backlash. At least one Pennsylvania jurisdiction has reaffirmed the right to video in public places. As part of a settlement with ACLU attorneys who represented an arrested “shooter,” the police in Spring City and East Vincent Township adopted a written policy allowing the recording of on-duty policemen.
The Congress of the United States should move immediately to establish legislation that protects a citizen’s right to record video and audio of any on-duty police officer in a public place or in their own home without having to obtain consent. We realize Congress is busy with trillion dollar bailouts and first class in-flight parties, but if there’s one thing they should be responsible for it’s protecting the rights of the American people, and this should be at the top of the list.
The adage “if you’re not doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to worry about” should apply not justÂ to citizen proles, but government officials as well, especially if those officials control the destiny of other individuals.
The public is the final cross-check and balance against government tyranny. If only the government has the power to record, arrest, prosecute and judge then we truly are living in a police state.
Hat tip Tom of the North of Looming Doom and Outside the Cardboard Box
That last lineÂ says it all……Â If only the government has the power to record, arrest, prosecute and judge then we truly are living in a police state.
I agree. Isn’t it amazing in jailhouse beating’s and roadside stops where these alleged peace officers video’s come up missing or the dash cam wasn’t working, same in the jailhouse’s all across this country. If the public officials want a stacked deck, Threaten to “RECALL” These treasonist pieces of you know what S#$%. Most judges are elected. recall em. Your representatives are elected. Recall em. Your governor is elected. Recall em.
Also, for once, the ACLU seem to be on the right side of this one.
This really makes me mad.Â Â Â I hope congress steps in and stops this madness.
That’s comforting….anyone else smell Marshall Law?
For your sake and everyone else’s, check out the site and spread the word that we’re here….anyone with half a brain can see the shit’s really about to hit the fan
I really don’t see how anyone could spin these laws as a good thing.
Not to worry though – Glenn Beck was talking about this recently, so it must not be that big of a deal.Â I mean, after all, Glenn Beck is crazy, right?Â Right???
Just remember to ignore the audio and video clips he has of Team Obama members praising dudes like Mao.
When a census worker called recently to clarify something, I asked halfway thru, ifÂ this call is being recorded,Â they said yes, Â even
though they hadn’t mentioned it voluntarily, Â Â so I said
oh, ok , that means I can record this as well,Â Â and they said no,
that’s not allowed. ?!?
A Class I felony punishable by 4 to 15 years in prison for Christopher Drew should also be dropped. The recording was being done by Christopher and not by a third party that would be concidered eavesdropping.Â Too manyÂ laws are on the books in all 50 states that someone can be arrested for, like washing your car on your lawn. I do that to water the grass at the same time instead of having it run off into the gutter. Who was not in their right mind that thought that one up?Â Â Not only that, but who were the politicians that signed it into law?Â
Meanwhile, Google can park in front of my house video recordingÂ my private property in order to plaster it all over the frigging internet……
go to Hell.
The police are supposed to be public servants. They serve me, not the other way. If it is alright to sit in on a police officer doing a patrol then I don’t see the problem with video taping him, ecspecially when he is suppose to be responsible for my safety. And I would like to know the name of theÂ legislators that made that crap a law. They deserve to be inprisoned.
if all parties involved had to consent then we might as well stop selling video recording devices.Â I recently went on vacation and one of my shots had 20,000 people in it.Â Am I a felon?Â Should I have stopped and got a written consent from everyone.Â Does this law also apply to the police car dashboard cams?Â Why not.Â Do police have more rights then common citizens?Â
Of all things in the world that SHOULD be able to be video-recorded, police are at the top of the list. Period.
Any law saying otherwise I will counter to the death.
Just like Ed Rendell’s office being busted for having MOSSAD SCUM on the state’s payroll, fingering normal everyday citizens as TERROR THREATS, the whole nation has lost it’s will to resist this bullshit. Like the one person above mentioned MARTIAL LAW, let me tell you something. We’ve been living in MARTIAL LAW, since the emergency declaration the negro puppet just re-authorized on Sept 14th. says. They just won’t ever declare MARTIAL LAW because for all practical purposes they don’t have to. WE ARE IN IT ALREADY!
This Law is bullshit and violates our freedom of press. checks and balaances are needed to keep equality. if the govt can violate our freedom of press then what else is there….officers are GOVERNMENT employees…WE pay them…not to mistreat us or beat us or to restrict our freedoms but to protects us. no one shouold be above the law. officers should be treated just like citizens. the same goes for any other govt official. recording la ws for citizens should be the same for govt officials
Vote!! Remember this. We the people elected the polititions that pass these laws. Vote them out of office and replace them. Speak out, tell all your friends of this law. You will be suprised how many folks have no knowledge of this law or what is doing to our freedom. Even if your State does not have this law in place. Remember, in todays politics precidense is used to vote laws and policies. If this practice goes unopposed it won’t be long before this law becomes federal. Repeal the Patriot act. This law has taken away many civil rights. Definetly one law that aides in state and federal oppression of American citizens. It is still We The People ,,Right?
Check state/local policies/statutes, etc — but the US DOJ released this May 14, 2012 referencing the Christopher Drew case, and “Guidance on the Right to Record Police Activity” : http://static.photographyisnotacrime.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/USDOJ-on-recording-cops.pdf