Question: If the parties being recorded have to consent, does that mean if I don’t consent to being photographed or videoed by the ubiquitous street cameras operated by the city that I can sue and/or have the operators and city officials who had them installed arrested?

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.
Almost without exception, police officials have staunchly supported the arresting officers. This argues strongly against the idea that some rogue officers are overreacting or that a few cops have something to hide. “Arrest those who record the police” appears to be official policy, and it’s backed by the courts.
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.

Found by Brother Uncle Don

  1. SparkyOne says:

    Cameras don’t kill people, eh…..

  2. ECA says:

    “Question: If the parties being recorded have to consent, does that mean if I don’t consent to being photographed or videoed by the ubiquitous street cameras operated by the city that I can sue and/or have the operators and city officials who had them installed arrested?”

    I suggest you read that piece of paper you signed when you got your license..

    SAID before..
    When they get to use Camera’s on us/we, there should be TWICE as many on THEM, in PUBLIC display.

  3. brm says:

    this is evidence that they’re up to no good.

    i mean, that’s the kind of logic they use on us.

  4. ECA says:

    lets do it this way..
    1. they have taken the Self policing AWAY from the public. YOU can not do anything, and if you do, you will be arrested also.
    2.MAY/YOUR taxes pay for WHAT??
    3. DITTO 2, then add, and it costs HOW MUCH to put a person in prison?? OVER $40,000 per year per person?
    4. HOW many are in prison for MINOR drug charges? OVER 50%??(look at PAST cases as well as current arrest records)
    5. OVER 1/2 out NATIONAL guard, those supposed to protect our NATION from the INSIDE, are where??
    6. Since you (the smart person) dont want the job, WHOM do we hire to DO IT??(the LESS SMART)
    7. AND about 6, think of WHO runs the gov. NOT the person that DONT WANT THE JOB(the smart one).

  5. ECA says:

    Since they ARENT doing their jobs, CAN WE GET A REFUND??

  6. noname says:

    What do the police have to fear if they are not breaking the law. The law should be about the protecting the truth and not about protecting crimes.

  7. Father says:

    Posting the names of police officers that arrest picture takers has what consequences?

  8. Dallas says:

    This is disturbing indeed. It’s taking the Cheney administration era police state mentality to a terrible place.

    I hope this makes it to the Supreme Court pronto while there is a reasonable distribution of liberal justices on the bench.

  9. KMFIX says:

    Yeah. I completely agree with the logic of.. If you’re not doing anything illegal, why are you afraid of being recorded?

    THEY use the same logic on US.

  10. PMitchell says:

    It only took 9 posts before the nutballs found some way to blame Bush for this

    but then Dallas is irrelevant he is so far off the deep end I am glad I left Arlington before he goes on a shooting rampage against the man

  11. sargasso_c says:

    Personally, I blame George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. And the RIAA and MPAA. Lady Gaga’s hairdresser. Elton John’s florist. And I draw a strange and sinister correlation between this and the sudden appearance of sink holes in Guatemala.

  12. SilkySaul says:

    Wow.. I’ve never known I’ll be saying this but “FUCK THA POLICE” — Seriously, this is ridiculous.

  13. TooManyPuppies says:

    Their argument was “if you’ve got nothing to hide, then what’s the problem?”.

    So, if it’s going to be illegal to photograph them while they are committing a crime, take them out. You’re going to jail either way, at least you can to your civic duty and take them off the street.

    And I say that as a former cop.

  14. Maricopa says:

    This from the same cops who probably have a dashboard mounted camera recording the interaction.
    Of course, their recordings are highly likely to go missing in some circumstances.

  15. GRtak says:

    Does them mean that CCCT cameras in stores are now illiegal in those states? And what about freedom of the press? Isn’t a cop breaking the law news?

  16. Uncle Patso says:

    “Almost without exception, police officials have staunchly supported the arresting officers.”

    Well, DUH! Cops have always had a big “Us versus Them” mentality; it comes with the job.

    I think the defense attorneys should make real pests of themselves, insisting that TV stations with traffic helicopters be charged with felony wiretapping, as well as every TV news crew and newspaper and magazine photographer as well, not to mention any and all cops with dash-mounted cameras.

    How long until all cameras are confiscated?

  17. Diceman82 says:

    so even the federal supreme court supports these laws or is it just dipshit local courts?

    not like the justices have made any sane choices lately as it its just awkward that the only weapon we have vs state bitch #47 is now a felony but if you have a press pass its fine.

    ps:how can i go about gettin a press pass, seems it wont be long before ohio has the same laws as well.

  18. Anon says:

    Three VERY liberal states. Figures. Liberals hate the Constitution.

  19. Amazing how quickly such laws get passed!

  20. Hmeyers says:

    Let it be illegal.

    They might be able to harass you, but they can’t stop the video. And illegally recorded video is still protected by free speech.

    The government is free to make whatever laws they choose, just let them try to enforce them when they are not aligned with the public good.

  21. TThor says:

    It is the same situation in China, Myanmar and North Korea. Definitely was a big no-no to take pictures of military and police in the old USSR, as well as East Germany. Trust me, I know, I was there. Other than that, I think it is pretty OK to take pictures of whatever you like. To be an amateur photographer is still legal in most countries.

    Seriously, and the US of all nations… how come you fall into yet another trap of totalitarianism? You were supposed to be the good guys, representing freedom in general; free speech, democracy and all. And now this, and no one cries out… mainstream media? Anyone?? No???

  22. bobbo, int'l pastry chef and Supreme Court reader says:

    Where is the ACLU when we NEED them?

    This actually shakes me to my core. People are not perfect. In general, you have to assume in any system of government that people will screw up and that groups have their own counter interests at play and so we have a general status of low level corruption==but generally it is manageable and finding an alternative absent just wishing for a perfect world is difficult.

    Real problems arise though when the normal “checks and balances” are removed===and that is what is happening here. “Normally” the courts or DA act as a check on the Police. And normally the leglislature will act as a check on the courts, DA, and police. So, a bad practice develops and the pendulum swings back and forth. Disruptive, but justice/freedom have a certain gravity.

    I don’t see that happening here.

    So, yea–the ACLU needs to find/stage a best case scenario and take it on up to the Supremes. Lib and Con judges alike should support the first amendment, common sense, and good government?

    My fingers are crossed.

  23. Benjamin says:

    #23 I read this article on Reason Hit and run which is a Libertarian blog. It is interesting that you aren’t for cops arresting people for taking pictures of the police since you hate Libertarian issues.

    I wonder why police do not want transparency. If police aren’t doing anything wrong, then a little video tape can’t hurt them.

  24. bobbo, libertarianism fails when it becomes Dogma says:

    Benji–when are you going to learn to read?

    Read my nom de flame until you can identify what it is “I hate.”

    Go ahead. Not that many words to stumble on. I’ll give you as many “guesses” as you need==but it really shouldn’t be a guess?

  25. Rabble Rouser says:

    Check out “The Shock Doctrine,” by Naomi Klein. They get things like this passed right after an incident like 9-11. It was the perfect time for them to use a “crisis” to take advantage of people and pass these Draconian measures.

  26. Lieberal Douchebag says:

    Shut up slaves!

  27. Rob (AU) says:

    Just one more reason for me to stay as far away from the USA as I can!

    I tend to tell abusive officials where to get off, but over there in the USA I could be locked up for a very long time, especially as the US consul has advised me that the constitution ONLY protects US citizens, not aliens, legal or not!

    So, if your own people are being abused, what chance would I have as a non-citizen? About ZERO I think!

  28. The Aberrant says:

    “I think the defense attorneys should make real pests of themselves,”

    … We’re trying!

    “Where is the ACLU when we NEED them?”

    The problem of the ACLU – and I think this is a valid question – is that their resources are very limited, and they usually only jump on when there’s a CLEAR ISSUE, or at least, a case that’s PERFECT for their cause. It’s rare that such a thing happens. Yes, the police are clearly stepping out of bounds in these cases, and more often than not an “arrest” is followed by a swift tune-up, but cops aren’t dumb, and they’re even better liars. Bad liars get drummed out of the police force quickly, or kept to desk duty where they can’t harm anything by fumbling around. So for the ACLU to come in, mostly as an outside agency interfering in a criminal case (since 99% of these cases end up in a criminal session, which the ACLU does not usually do), it’s difficult for them to directly intervene.

    I’m sure, however, once the issue starts to hit the appellate courts (which should happen soon), then we’ll start to see more ACLU involvement in terms of amicus briefs and direct appellate intervention.

  29. bobbo, waiting for the end of time says:

    Aberrant–I “sense” you agree this issue is VERY important and should draw the last resource of the ACLU when the right case is presented. This is more than police misconduct==it is the police acting pursuant to the law (in three States.) Civil Liberties, something the ACLU is concerned about, flow from having a police force that is appropriately limited in its police powers. Acting in secret without review is not part of that limited and appropriate role.

    If I had the money, I’d be contributing to the ACLU. Until such time, I can only give them my moral support (and direction).

  30. DaveO says:

    And they also have the cams mounted on tasers so the boys back at the station can have a good laugh.


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