Congressman Puts Forth Resolution To Protect People Who Videotape Police

from the good-for-him dept

We've noted recently that police and the courts have been regularly abusing wiretap laws to arrest people who are videotaping or recording police, claiming that they're violating two-party consent laws. The most famous case, of course, is the motorcycle rider with a helmet cam, who is facing jailtime for recording an off-duty, ununiformed police officer who jumped out of his car with his gun drawn. These situations are clearly not what such laws are designed to protect. Instead, it appears that the police are using them to intimidate and block people from legally recording police activity in public places.

Apparently all that press attention is starting to get noticed. Michael Scott points us to the news that Rep. Edolphus Towns has introduced a Congressional resolution protecting those who film or photograph police in public.
It's just a resolution, rather than an actual law, but if it passes, hopefully, it will give the courts the ammo they need to toss out these ridiculous lawsuits.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    MrWilson, Jul 20th, 2010 @ 4:11pm

    Against?

    Who, other than cops and homeland authoritarians, would be against this resolution? I'm pretty sure we outnumber them.

     

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  2.  
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    Brian (profile), Jul 20th, 2010 @ 4:20pm

    Re: Against?

    Well if you could please step over here into this special voting van to cast your support for this it would greatly help the cause.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Jul 20th, 2010 @ 4:29pm

    Sixteen years ... that is more than some get for murder.
    I'm glad to see someone on the hill has taken notice, hopefully something good will come of it.

     

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  4.  
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    Phillip Vector (profile), Jul 20th, 2010 @ 4:31pm

    2 party Law...

    So, please correct me if I am wrong.. If it's not allowed to record the cops due to this law, wouldn't it also be not allowed for cops to record people via dash cams? Can't you charge them with the same thing?

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2010 @ 4:58pm

    Re: 2 party Law...

    Most wiretapping laws have an exception for law enforcement I think.

    This is, however, why most security cameras do not record sound.

     

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  6.  
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    Jay (profile), Jul 20th, 2010 @ 4:59pm

    @Phillip

    That's the odd thing...

    In public we're supposed to have an expectation of being filmed anywhere. That should go to police as well.

    But if it's the police, somehow they're held to a different standard where they can't be filmed. We had one cop that was caught on camera but nothing happened to him. I doubt for a second that police aren't prone to mistakes but damn, when are we going to stop the double standards?

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Rick, Jul 20th, 2010 @ 5:40pm

    I always wondered...

    Wiretapping...

    I'm looking at my phone and my camera, I can't seem to find any wires. So, how does this law apply in the first place? Wasn't it supposed to be about taping PHONE conversations?

    Also, what is the difference when a citizen tapes an incident with an officer and if the news does it? Does freedom of speech not apply to the citizen in the same situation?

     

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  8.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jul 20th, 2010 @ 5:43pm

    "It's just a resolution, rather than an actual law, but if it passes, hopefully, it will give the courts the ammo they need to toss out these ridiculous lawsuits."

    Mike if I am remembering correctly its not a lawsuit, a lawsuit is civil.

    A civil lawsuit, the victim brings a case for money damages against the offender or a third party for causing physical or emotional injuries. A criminal case is filed by the prosecutor charging an individual with committing a criminal act.

    So these cases would be criminal prosecutions.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jul 20th, 2010 @ 5:55pm

    Just a question the voting chart in the article says 97% for 3% against. Isn't that near the ratio of civilians to police, prosecutors, and politicians? ...

     

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  10.  
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    out_of_the_blue, Jul 20th, 2010 @ 6:18pm

    "give the courts the ammo they need"...

    There is ZERO basis for a charge against anyone recording police in the first place. They're public *servants* whose *every* official act is legitimate only by the authority granted by the public for our benefit, not petty kings. But nearly always prosecutors and judges are complicit in enforcing arbitrary tyranny, supporting police regardless of all else -- because they're all in the SAME GANG CALLED GOV'T. That's the de facto system, the "actuality" as higher courts call it, not de jure, or statutes.

    Just more evidence that people need to learn common law and insist on all rights and due process, not blindly accept "authority", though it carries a gun.

     

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  11.  
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    V, Jul 20th, 2010 @ 8:44pm

    Governments...

    Governments should be afraid of their people. People shouldn't be afraid of their government.

     

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  12.  
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    abc gum, Jul 21st, 2010 @ 5:09am

    Re: Governments...

    "Governments should be afraid of their people"

    Apparently they are.

    "People shouldn't be afraid of their government"

    Government wants the people to be afraid, very afraid.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Rooker, Jul 21st, 2010 @ 8:32am

    The more adamant a police officer is that he shouldn't be recorded while on-duty, the more necessary it is to make sure there are cameras rolling. First, to make it absolutely clear to him that he cannot escape being held accountable for any unprofessional behavior. Second, to see what he's doing that he doesn't want anyone to know about while we're paying him to do it.

    I remember years ago, a Highway Patrolman (in Tennessee, I think?) was using a remote control for a DOT traffic monitoring camera to ogle drunk college girls on the sidewalk downtown. He kept zooming in and out to get a better look at them. The less dressed they were, the tighter he zoomed in.

    He was caught because he didn't realize that the camera feed was broadcast to a local cable company's public access channel and somebody noticed all this. The head of the state's DOT was outraged and confiscated from the Highway Patrol all of the controllers for DOT surveillance cameras.

    The Highway Patrol flatly refused to release the name of the officer in control of the camera or to punish him in any way. A couple of lawsuits were being threatened to make the HP take action but I don't know if anything ever came of it.

     

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  14.  
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    Joe Authority, Jul 21st, 2010 @ 10:07am

    A few bad apples?

    I think this is a great idea. While I have a careful suspicion of government, I think that, as in most cases in life, the people in charge are mostly well-intentioned people just trying to do the right thing every day.

    But without the tools or permission to watch the watchers, the bad apples that do exist will not get caught, and that's a bad thing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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