Texas Deputy Sued For Privacy Violations After Live Streaming A Traffic Stop On TikTok
from the awful-and-probably-not-lawful dept
I don’t know, maybe don’t do this?
A Tarrant County man is suing Dallas County and a sheriff’s deputy after he says his personal information was revealed to more than 100 people after the deputy livestreamed a traffic stop through TikTok.
So, there’s a lot going on here, most of it in favor of the Tarrant County man. That man would be Torry Osby, who recently sued Dallas County deputy Francisco Castillo for livestreaming a whole bunch of his personal information during a routine stop.
One of deputy Francisco Castillo’s (d/b/a “cycosisco” on TikTok) followers saw the livestream and reached out to Torry Osby — something they were able to accomplish because Deputy Castillo basically broadcasted all of Osby’s personal information by putting Osby’s driver’s license in front of his camera.
This is a screenshot of the TikTok broadcast, as included in Osby’s lawsuit [PDF]:
Here’s a small part of the allegations, as stated by Osby’s lawyers:
Osby said he was driving to his job at a Walmart distribution center March 2, 2021, when he was pulled over by Castillo for speeding — even though Osby said he had his cruise control set to drive below the speed limit. Castillo let Osby go with a warning.
Osby never consented to being livestreamed, his lawyers wrote, and did not know he was being recorded until a viewer of the livestream reached out to him. His lawyers said Castillo only pulled Osby over and filmed the stop to get likes and views on TikTok, and not for any legitimate government purpose.
It’s true Osby never consented to being livestreamed. But he had to assume he was being recorded in one way or another. Dashcams have been around forever. Body cams are swiftly becoming omnipresent.
On top of that, Texas is a one-party consent state, which means Osby’s permission to be recorded wasn’t necessary. The law only prevents recordings in which neither party knows they’re being recorded.
But consent to a recording, whether consensual or not, is not the same thing as consenting to a broadcast of the conversation. That the deputy decided to broadcast a ton of personal information about a person stopped and let go with a warning is something else entirely. Law enforcement agencies regularly release a lot of personal information about people arrested, booked, and charged with criminal offenses. Law enforcement agencies do not regularly release information about people who have only interacted with law enforcement officers.
The lawsuit gets it tort on. There are plenty of claims under state law about privacy violations. As should be expected in any lawsuit (and, indeed, any prosecution), the opening tactic is to note any and all possible legal violations in hopes that some of them will stick.
But beyond the lawyering that’s expected in the opening rounds of litigation, Osby’s lawyers do make good points. The lawsuit opens with a physical world analogy:
Imagine an officer pulling over driver on traffic stop, and then loudly proclaiming to people walking down the sidewalk who the driver is, when he was born, where he lives, and his driver license number. This shocking invasion of privacy is essentially what occurred in this case, only to over hundred people on the internet.
And that’s the crux of the issue here. It’s not shocking that an officer would record a traffic stop. It’s shocking that an officer would broadcast a bunch of personal information over social media, effectively doxing the person being stopped. If someone posted a bunch of personal info about a cop on social media, police officials, union leaders, and probably even some local legislators would be publicly incensed. But when a cop does it to a regular person, no one has much to say about but the person who got fucked.
And nothing much is done about this obvious breach of policy, privacy protections, and general “don’t do stupid shit” expectations of public officials. Deputy Castillo received all of a two-day suspension for this act, despite there being evidence on record that the deputy regularly uses his law enforcement work as entertainment for nearly 18,000 followers on TikTok.
At best, this was an egregious breach of trust by the deputy. It violated the assumptions of interactions with cops — one of those being that officers aren’t detaining people for internet points. At worst, this was a careless, dangerous, incredibly stupid, and illegal use of Deputy Castillo’s law enforcement powers.
Whatever this ends up being under Texas law should be decided by a jury. There’s probably no precedent that says officers shouldn’t broadcast people’s personal information on social media, but it’s such an obvious indiscretion, no officer should expect a court to look the other way in order to grant immunity. Deputy Castillo fucked up. And, given his alleged social media history, this very likely isn’t the first time. He deserves to be held civilly accountable for what he’s done. No matter the outcome of the lawsuit, his employer should sever ties with someone who thinks his taxpayer-funded job is just fodder for 17.5 thousand TikTok followers.
Filed Under: dallas, francisco castillo, live streaming, social media, tarrant county, texas, torry osby, traffic stop
Comments on “Texas Deputy Sued For Privacy Violations After Live Streaming A Traffic Stop On TikTok”
Says a lot about this officer.
If the deputy loses this, expect the department to try to use it in all sorts of cases as precedent that stops can’t be recorded/broadcast by citizens.
They’ll ignore the detail of the PII being the crux of the argument, and try to shut down all sorts of citizen journalism.
The cop is being sued for broadcasting Torry Osby’s license details, and not just the act of broadcasting. That is making public information not on public view.
Which should hopefully put paid to the bad faith arguments the Anon (correctly) fears.
And so, I do hope this effort succeeds
Re: Re: Re:
It should, but that doesn’t mean law enforcement won’t try it and keep trying it until they find a judge and appeals court that agrees with them. Sadly.
Interesting to note that as many law enforcement agencies move to encrypt radio communications they often cite protecting the privacy of citizens they interact with as the highest priority justification.
Also, the officer’s motives and acts can be questioned. Is he doing something just to get “likes” and followers, or because it was a legitimate use of discretion.
If Texas follows the same lead as many other jurisdictions, the officer may find himself shut down anyway, purely by accident.
I suppose this would actually be a valid case of banning TikTok over privacy violations.
dereliction of duty
It looks to me like the deputy was derelict in his duty. The time he spent stopping people just to entertain his TikTok followers was time he did not spend doing his job.
Act by action
The fact that this was broadcast isn’t the issue. I’ve said before body cam footage for every moment of every shift of every officer should be immediately available to the public whole.
The problem is the distribution of personally identifying information.