Friday, June 04, 2010

Criminalizing video of the cops?

This seems to me like a frightening and wrong development:
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.

Egad. Whenever people with guns and the power to arrest you want to push the cameras away, that seems bad news to me. We need armed police. But we also need them to use their power very carefully and be held accountable when they abuse it. I think these laws should be overturned.

Maybe all uses of force by the police should have to be video recorded (by built in cameras that are part of standard police gear) to ensure that violence is used properly. I think they do this with police interrogations to make sure they are following the rules.

If individuals can't use tools like video to defend themselves from abuses by the state (and by other individuals), we're entering some very creepy territory. There's too much of this going on these days.

UPDATE: Obsidian Wings has a similar reaction:

To be blunt, our politicians and policymakers are overly deferential to police officers and overly concerned with establishing "tough on crime" credentials. As a result, they are far too often hesistant to establish common sense regulations and checks on abuses of power, not to mention being unduly wedded to harsh sentences for non-violent offenses (see, ie, the disastrous "War on Drugs").

But the above cited abuse of power is unjust, undemocratic and fails the standards of any proper liberal society. It would be nice if our leaders had the courage to actually do something about it.

1 Comments:

Anonymous bill in minneapolis said...

This raises an interesting constitutional question. I would guess that unless there is some critical government interest to protect (like national security), any law restricting a private person's ability to photograph or video in public places would be prohibited under the 1st Amendment.

I can see absolutely no legitimate government interest to be protected here. In fact, just the opposite.

But with our current Roberts Supreme Courts, who knows what these wierdos will say.

2:23 AM, June 05, 2010  

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