Civil Liberties

Watching the Watchers

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Another arrest for videotaping police officers on the job. And this kid's being charged with a felony:

Brian D. Kelly didn't think he was doing anything illegal when he used his videocamera to record a Carlisle police officer during a traffic stop. Making movies is one of his hobbies, he said, and the stop was just another interesting event to film.

Now he's worried about going to prison or being burdened with a criminal record.

Kelly, 18, of Carlisle, was arrested on a felony wiretapping charge, with a penalty of up to 7 years in state prison.

He violated a state law that forbids sound recording of another person without their consent—in this case, the police officer. The law of course exempt the police from recording citizens without consent. The individual officer apparently called for backup after seeing the camera, which Kelly turned over willingly after the officer's first request. Six more cars pulled up to make the arrest.

The DA and chief of police say Kelly will likely be permitted to plea to lesser charges. But that misses the point. The police are public servants. They're entrusted with enormous responsibility, including the ability to use lethal force. It should never be prohibited for a citizen to record them while they're on duty. Consider this line from one of the prosecutors:

First Assistant District Attorney Jaime Keating said case law is in flux as to whether police can expect not to be recorded while performing their duties.

"The law isn't solid," Keating said. "But people who do things like this do so at their own peril."

That's a pretty chilling statement: You hold the police accountable at your own peril.

Kelly's asking the ACLU for help. I'm surprised a case challenging laws prohibiting the taping of police hasn't already made it to the Supreme Court. On the surface, this one seems like a good test case. Then again, given the current lineup of the Court, perhaps now's not the best time to seek out a precedent.

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  1. Next time use duct tape.

  2. Mr Balko’s posts often leave me without comment.

  3. First Assistant District Attorney Jaime Keating said case law is in flux as to whether police can expect not to be recorded while performing their duties.

    “The law isn’t solid,” Keating said. “But people who do things like this do so at their own peril.”

    Wow. Chilling, no shit. Wow. (just had a vision of Rudy G and that mentality….) What a statement. Wow.

  4. Shit, the kid gave the camera over at first request. This should be no more than a
    Police: “it’s against the law to do that”
    Kid: “oh, I didn’t know”
    Police: “Don’t do it again, because it’s a serious offense.”

  5. Shouldn’t it be legal to make a video/sound recording IN PUBLIC without someone’s permission. It seems like the news can do this without trouble.

  6. Those laws exist to protect private citizens. Using them to “protect” government officials at work is downright evil.

  7. Clearly these people have a lot to hide and a lot to be afraid of if people are allowed to record their actions. The local police are becoming a petorian guard in this country.

  8. Well, first off, this law prohibits taping ANYONE without their consent, not just police officers. I don’t have a problem with laws against clandestine recording of conversations. Your right to a reasonable expectation of privacy is violated just as much when a normal citizen records a private conversation as when the NSA does. And, it appears that this person had the consent of neither the officer nor the person being stopped.

  9. Of course, there are also laws in most jurisdictions against taping the activities of police officers even w/o audio, and those are BS. But that’s not what this guy is being charged for.

  10. True enough crimethink, but shouldn’t the law contain an exception for the taping of police officers? Again, what do they have to hide?

  11. I believe in some jurisdictions licit recording requires only one party (who may or may not be the recording agent) to know that the conversation is being recorded; in others, all taped parties have to know.

  12. Given the number of incidents of police brutality caught on tape since the advent of cheap video cameras I can’t see how anyone could object to a private citizen videotaping police activity, particularly things like routine traffic stops.

  13. Would it have been better if the kid had put a sign on his car stating that anyone who approaches the car will be recorded…?

  14. M, in this case neither party to the conversation gave consent (remember, the driver wasn’t the one recording).

  15. If the cops weren’t doing anything wrong, no doubt they should have no problems with allowing their actions to be video taped.

  16. John,

    Well, we can’t have it both ways. Either police are just normal citizens or they’re not.

  17. Is it not legal for your employer to record your actions while you’re on the job? I seem to get the impression that this is in fact legal. If it’s not, someone please correct me.

    Even if the kid’s intentions weren’t journalistic or hobbyist in nature, what’s wrong with recording police while on the job? It’s just a matter of an employer keeping tabs on their employees.

  18. I don’t have a problem with laws against clandestine recording of conversations.

    Neither do I, but how “clandestine” is someone who stands in a public place with a video camera? Come on, it’s not like he’s peering through someone’s window or even hiding in the bushes. When I lived in DC there were literally hundreds of tourists with video cameras recording all the time who I’m sure picked up many nearby conversations without getting consent. Should they be charged with felonies too? Obviously not because they were openly in public and any nearby conversant wouldn’t expect his actions or words to be private. Likewise, no police officer (nor anyone stopped by one) should expect their interaction to be private. Quite the opposite, as a representative of the state (where any thing you say to him “can and will be used against you…”) there is no expectation of privacy in your public dealings with the police. Anything that occurs in public, where all parties know they are open to observation by those nearby, should not be illegal to record.

  19. “Either police are just normal citizens or they’re not.”

    They are not normal citizens when they are on duty. They are public servents are to be held to a higher standard. They are there to “protect and to serve” the public. That means that they give up rights and privileges in the name of protecting our rights and privileges. One of those rights ought to be the right against being photographed in public. The need to have a transparent government is greater than their right to privacy there.

  20. While acting in their official capacity, it seems to me that government officials should have truncated rights. That’s not to say that they don’t have all of the rights of any person in the U.S. in their individual capacity, but we have a huge interest in being able to do things like, like, tape cops beating people up.

  21. Also, consider the flip side of this. What if someone recorded a traffic stop where the officer was lenient, say, letting someone off without a ticket when they were speeding, and then posted the video to the web? That officer could get in some deep shit when this becomes known to the local highway safety nannies, not to mention the jurisdictions that were ‘cheated out’ of the fines.

  22. I am of the opinion that the police should be required to tape everything they say and do while on duty. Incidences of equipment failure should be investigated.

  23. There is no expectation of privacy of even a limited kind in a public place. Zero. Nada.

    Strictly speaking, if you say otherwise it would be illegal to make a tape of yourself and your family in Times Square, because you would be taping other persons in the background, picking their conversations up as background noise, etc.

    I guess the lesson here is if you happen to witness the Rodney King beating, don’t videotape it – just throw a Molotov cocktail instead.

  24. Brian Courts,

    The officer claimed that the kid was trying to hide the camera. Obviously, that doesn’t mean it’s true, but it’s not like the kid was just standing there with a camera in plain view.

  25. crimethink, I think it is safe to assume the driver was either aware of the recording or would not want to press charges on his friend.

  26. Well, the statutes are a bit vague.

    ? 5703. Interception, disclosure or use of wire, electronic or oral communications.

    Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, a person is guilty of a felony of the third degree if he:

    1. intentionally intercepts, endeavors to intercept, or procures any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept any wire, electronic or oral communication;
    2. intentionally discloses or endeavors to disclose to any other person the contents of any wire, electronic or oral communication, or evidence derived therefrom, knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through the interception of a wire, electronic or oral communication; or
    3. intentionally uses or endeavors to use the contents of any wire, electronic or oral communication, or evidence derived therefrom, knowing or having reason to know, that the information was obtained through the interception of a wire, electronic or oral communication.

    There are no exceptions for video recordings, meaning that every TV news anchor who has ever caught anybody saying anything without permission prior to taping is in violation and guilty of a felony. The act of taping a VIDEO is not illegal, but becomes so if you add sound.

  27. I should add that there is no exception to public spaces either.

  28. This is an outrage, I agree that the police, when doing public work, should be exempt from any law protecting ‘privacy’ this way. Kudos to John’s discussion on this.

  29. crimethink (what is the significance of that name?) – you didn’t really expect me to rtfa, did you?

    Anyway, no lawyer here, but my recollection is that in those other jurisdictions, being informed rather than granting consent is at issue. As in “For quality-control and training porpoises, this call may be recorded.”

  30. There is no expectation of privacy of even a limited kind in a public place. Zero. Nada.

    So, you’d have no trouble if your local govt placed concealed microphones every 10 feet along public sidewalks?

  31. speaking of flip sides

  32. Also, consider the flip side of this. What if someone recorded a traffic stop where the officer was lenient, say, letting someone off without a ticket when they were speeding, and then posted the video to the web?

    Fucking eh! Bring it on! The capricious nature in which traffic violations are enforced make them 100% corruption. At best they are a lottery tax, but more often than not they are “oh you belong to the same club as Judge Judy? Well, try to keep it under 45 around the school” or “You don’t live around here, so I’m writing you up for speeding in a school zone, that’s double the points and fines”.

    All laws should be enforced all the time. Maybe that would inspire more people (especially the right people, i.e. the ones with power and money) to lobby for their repeal.

  33. I like Warren’s idea, however given stats at places like CATO and many of Radley’s stories, I would certainly expect equipment failures in the case of botched raids, cops gone wild during regular traffic stops etc. and wouldn’t have much confidence in ensuing investigations. On the other hand, maybe setting that standard would be a positive influence and reinforce the “to protect and serve and not beat up innocent civillians” motto.

  34. Now in Rothbard’s world, would the citizen first need to get the cop to sign a model release?

  35. The officer claimed that the kid was trying to hide the camera. Obviously, that doesn’t mean it’s true, but it’s not like the kid was just standing there with a camera in plain view.

    Perhaps he was, but even if he was standing in plain view it seems the act is illegal, which it should not be. Moverover, even if he was trying to hide the camera (perhaps out of the obviously reasonable fear of what police would do to it or him if they saw it) the police officer is in public, acting in his capacity as a public official, and therefore ought to be subject to public observation and recording with camera hidden or otherwise. The clandestine nature of recording should only be relevant when the subject has a reasonable expectation of privacy and police on duty should never have such an expectation when dealing with the public in an official capacity.

  36. Laws against everything and arbitrary enforcement.

    Anybody surprised that the cops don’t want their words recorded? How would they be able to lie about stuff if that was commonly done?

  37. So you guys seriously cannot come up with any reasons why citizens should not be allowed to wiretap or spy on the police? Seriously?

  38. M,

    My name is actually related to violations of the right to privacy by recording of conversations.

    Now, on the question of what constitutes consent to be recorded, if there is a recording device in plain view, or one participant in the conversation informs the other that the conversation will be taped, you are assumed to consent to such by continuing the conversation. If you don’t want to be recorded, you can leave the place or hang up.

    As in “For quality-control and training porpoises, this call may be recorded.”

    I’m not sure how listening in to phone conversations is going to help train porpoises, but… 😉

  39. When it comes to putting up cameras to watch all of us they claim “we have no reasonable expectation to privacy when we are in public.” Thus according to the lawmakers themselves anytime your outside your home you forfeit all your rights to privacy. This is the standard line used anytime they want to put up more cameras to watch us.

    Now if I can not expect any amount of privacy be extended to me in public how in the hell does a public official get those rights when in public performing a public service. I say if we are paying them we should be able to shoot as much video as we want. The problem is simply that YES they do INDEED have lotssss to hide and the only camera footage they want in front of any court is the footage they shot themselves. I mean why chance having your story come unraveled with other footage contradictory to your claims and edited tape you presented as evidence.

    I think if we all taped them maybe they would get the point. If a public servant is in public and is a civilian as the rest of us are they to should have no reasonable expectation to privacy. Even less so considering the powers given to them as cops.

    They can kick your door down and say oh well no biggie if you have nothing to hide right. But they on the other hand should have absolutely nothing to hide as COPS and yet they seem to want the ability to hide any and everything they can from those they are sworn to protect and also paid by.

    It should not be up to the police or politicians if cops can be taped. Here is an idea get used to little brother watching your big brother ass and taping you and before you go fucking off breaking the laws your supposed to uphold always remember someone is probably watching and taping you, just as someone caught on tape is much more easily convicted of the crime so then should you be of any indiscretion in your duties.

    You COPS don’t have anything to hide, right?

  40. There is a flip side to this. The flip side is the civilians the people interact with. The problem with recording everything cops do is that it would allow jerks to record civlians being stopped by police. To take a good example, imagine if the local chapter of MADD started following cops around and recording every DUI stop and putting the stops up on the web? Don’t think for a moment those assholes wouldn’t do something like that.

  41. “So, you’d have no trouble if your local govt placed concealed microphones every 10 feet along public sidewalks?”

    Whether he agrees with it or not is immaterial. The Supreme Court has ruled that you have no expectation of privacy when in public.

    I am not aware of any exception for law enforcement officers.

  42. given the current lineup of the Court, perhaps now’s not the best time to seek out a precedent.

    Is this just knee-jerk, or can someone give me a breakdown of how the current court might vote on this?

    Dan – how is it “wiretapping” or “spying” to record something being done on a fucking street corner? Is English even your first language, or are you posting here as some kind of ESL practice?

  43. Crimethink, would your opinion on the matter differ greatly if the cop had been recorded by an unmanned security camera nearby?

  44. imagine if the local chapter of MADD started following cops around and recording every DUI stop and putting the stops up on the web

    And no way would the local jackboots bust MADD’s chops for those videotapes.

  45. I see a niche market on the horizon. Baseball hats with built in cameras. If everyone is always filming everyone it would truly be a utopia. Well so long as the cops aren’t taped.

    Reason #9790874867098375098365 this country is so screwed.

  46. Frankly, I don’t see what is to be gained by recording an officer’s conversations in audio. Video-only recording would serve as an effective deterrent to police brutality, searching without warrants, etc.

  47. Anyone know if there happen to be traffic stops stored for posterity on “Google Streets”?

  48. Dee,

    Your wish is our command.

  49. Crimethink, would your opinion on the matter differ greatly if the cop had been recorded by an unmanned security camera nearby?

    Cameras should not be recording audio in public places. So, no, it wouldn’t change my opinion.

  50. crimethink – thank you for the nomenkaltura ‘splanation. How quickly they (= I) slip data into that memory hole.

    If you don’t want to be recorded, you can leave the place or hang up.

    Only if Mister Cop agrees, or you don’t want to complete your call to Amex (which in Murray Rothbard’s world would be the same thing).

    help train porpoises

    The orthography was intended to be flipperer than thine. But still suitable pour le dauphin.

  51. no time to read all the comments…

    but this shit is absurd. There should be a higher standard for police officers, and what better way to guarantee it? Tape them at every opportunity. Soon, the panopticon public wil have them shaking in fear from taking liberties with their authority, or, as is more common, just lying to people about what choices they have/dont have under the law.

    This is some serious shit and it should go to the SCOTUS. Not this case, per se, but I think this needs to be addressed.

    recently, a friend had pulled up in front of my building and called me on his phone to come on down… a police car pulled up behind him and started giving him a ticket for using the cell phone while driving. He protested the car was stopped. Cop didnt care.

    I come out the door, and see my buddy getting the ticket. I look back at the police car and notice the backup cop, sound asleep in the front seat. I mean, snuggled up and completely out.

    I take out my blackberry (which i should add doesnt have a camera) and walk up to the roller, about 1 foot away, and hold it near the window to “film” the sleeping cop.

    Cop #1 sees me and shit pops off. He grabs me slams me on the hood, starts yelling at me about who the fuck you think you are, rips the thing out of my hand starts trying to figure out how to ‘remove’ the film or whatever. Face on the hood, I go “dude, its a phone, Just a phone. see? a phone. No camera. No lens. No nothing. phone”. He’s confused. What the fuck were you doing. I explain i was hoping the other cop would wake up and see me and freak out. HE explains its illegal to film cops. Ever since Rodney King, eh? I say. (he’s black). He almost laughs. He says no something about 9/11… after a minute he pulls me off the hood and says dont fuck around you can get in a lot of trouble. He’s clearly in no mood to process the paperwork for “Attempted filming of sleeping police officer”

    Anyway…. my feeling is that cops should expect to be filmed, recorded, photographed constantly, and the best defense againt government intrusions into our lives is to simply require the same level of transparency back up the food chain.

  52. So how come every roving news cameraman in Penn isn’t in jail right now?

  53. Well, first off, this law prohibits taping ANYONE without their consent, not just police officers. I don’t have a problem with laws against clandestine recording of conversations. Your right to a reasonable expectation of privacy is violated just as much when a normal citizen records a private conversation as when the NSA does. And, it appears that this person had the consent of neither the officer nor the person being stopped.

    The solution to the problem of invasion of privacy through clandestine recordings of people who are in public is to make it illegal to record without *informing* the subject, not to require the subject’s consent. That way, if you are about to say something you wouldn’t want preserved forever on tape, you can just refrain from saying it. Police, of course, are always selflessly acting in the public’s interest, so they wouldn’t be doing anything so shameful that they’d have to stop doing it just because a camera was running.

  54. Nomenklatura, even.

    De man ain’t got no kaltura.

  55. Dan – how is it “wiretapping” or “spying” to record something being done on a fucking street corner?

    Whatever you want to call it – according to many here if the police are out in public doing a sting operation or some kind of stakeout it should be legal for people to tape them doing it.

    Brilliant. I know many of you have a childish aversion to authority but damn, if you’re going to have a police force you kind of have to give them some leeway to do the job.

  56. Crimethink-

    So your whole problem with this is making an audio recording of a cop?

  57. Dan, that should absolutely be legal.

    If I see some guys I know are undercover cops on the street [maybe doing a drug sting or something] it would absolutely, positively be tyrannical to say I can’t stand next to them, point at them, and loudly say, “These guys are cops!” over and over.

  58. “a sting operation or some kind of stakeout”

    Affirmed: Videotaping apiary surgery or barbecues = treason.

  59. Fluffy – What if you say “aren’t cops”?

  60. crimethink | June 12, 2007, 3:53pm | #

    Frankly, I don’t see what is to be gained by recording an officer’s conversations in audio. Video-only recording would serve as an effective deterrent to police brutality, searching without warrants, etc.

    To answer your question, crimethink, I must employ an anecdote:

    Recently, my fiance was involved in a situation with a federal agent of some sorts and a FL highway patrol. I was on the phone with her when it all played out – she set the phone down and I listened to the events that transpired. The FHP officer involved was quite rude, obscene, and most importantly, deceitful / “tricky” in the way he “interrogated” her on the scene. Luckily, my fiance was able to answer all questions appropriately and did not fall for the officer’s attempts to fool her into saying something incriminating; If she had, she would have ended up in jail, seeing as how she had fled from a federal agent (longer story – she thought it was just some idiot with road rage)…

    Answer: A lot is to be gained by audio.

    If my fiance had somehow managed to incriminate herself, regardless of her innocence, and she was arrested on the spot, a video without sound would do nothing to show the officer’s blatant verbal abuse and the harassment employed in trying to get something to charge my fiance with. Audio with the video, however, would have.

  61. He says no something about 9/11…

    He whipped out the unchallengeable comeback.

  62. That’s a pretty chilling statement: You hold the police accountable at your own peril.

    While I don’t exactly find this to be nearly as “chilling” as the melodramatic Mr. Balko, it’s worth noting that the average citizen is not really supposed to hold the police accountable (whatever that means).

  63. “Interception, disclosure or use of wire, electronic or oral communications”

    Interception…of… oral communications.

    Doesn’t that statute says it’s a felony to overhear a conversation between 2 other people? Like if I am sitting at a restaurant, and the couple next to me are talking, and don’t know I am listening, then I have committed a felony?

    CB

  64. I guess that depends on the definition they employ regarding “interception”…probably on the “definitions” page.

  65. M –

    That would be a clever way to avoid being charged with anything, if statutes saying I couldn’t identify undercover officers were on the books. After all, I think people hearing me yell that they weren’t cops might conclude that the opposite was true.

    I’ve thought of another objection to the notion that taping the police is a privacy violation:

    It’s commonly accepted that you don’t have an expectation of privacy for a conversation that a third party can hear. You’ve already lost your privacy by virtue of the fact that I can hear your conversation. The fact that I’m making a permanent record of it is superfluous.

    If you sit on a street corner and have a conversation with your accomplice to a robbery about where your loot is hidden, you can’t claim that your privacy is violated if I’m standing right there and hear your conversation. The very fact that I was present vitiates your expectation of privacy. So what privacy right am I violating if I also have a video camera?

  66. …not really supposed to…

    Whatever that means.

  67. Whatever you want to call it – according to many here if the police are out in public doing a sting operation or some kind of stakeout it should be legal for people to tape them doing it.

    Whatever arguments might be raised that it should be illegal to tape police who are trying to conduct an undercover operation, that’s not what this case is about. What this kid was arrested for was taping uniformed police engaged in an open traffic stop, without trying to conceal themselves or pretend they were doing anything other than police work.

    If they weren’t trying to conceal what they were doing from Kelly and his brother, what reason would they have to want to conceal those actions from others who might view the tape later?

  68. there’s gotta be some sort of connection (but not based on religion) with sex.

    yes:

    talking = oral.

    Recording a cop (where a detective is a “dick”) talking. Oral + dick.

    that’s it – he’s fearful because you’re talking about sex.

  69. jimmydageek | June 12, 2007, 4:46pm | #
    I guess that depends on the definition they employ regarding “interception”…probably on the “definitions” page.

    From here, empahsis mine.

    “Intercept.”
    Aural or other acquisition of the contents of any wire, electronic or oral communication through the use of any electronic, mechanical or other device.

    I don’t know what “other device” might constitute, but I suppose if you use a hearing aid, eavesdropping would definitely count as “intercepting an oral conversation through the use of an electronic device”.

  70. Dan T

    it’s worth noting that the average citizen is not really supposed to hold the police accountable (whatever that means).

    Yes. Whatever that means, Rodney King.

    Were you dropped on your head as a baby?

  71. what privacy right am I violating if I also have a video camera?

    Just speculating here, but maybe its the credibility suggested in your subsequent power to display my behavior, possibly absent off-screen context that would justify it (the Rodney King cops kept saying you should have seen the preface that got away), vs. what would be hearsay if you just reported what you’d said/heard/smelled etc.

    On the irony factor in testimony, IIRC it was G.K. Chesterton who recounted the trial of a citizen accused of calling a police officer a donkey. After being convicted and fined, the defendant asked the judge whether he was to understand it impermissible to call a police officer a donkey. The judge affirmed the lesson learned. Then the defendant asked whether it was permissible to call a donkey a police officer, to which the judge replied, You may do that if it pleases you. Whereupon the defendant turned to the cop who had arrested him, tipped his hat, and as he walked by said to him, “Good day, Mister Police Officer.”

  72. crimethink | June 12, 2007, 3:53pm | #

    Frankly, I don’t see what is to be gained by recording an officer’s conversations in audio. Video-only recording would serve as an effective deterrent to police brutality, searching without warrants, etc.

    Eugene Siler could probably tell you what’s to be gained.

  73. Ok I have the answer. Just call yourself an artist making a documentary and then you will be protected by the Constitution…

    on the other hand… maybe not if that happens to hit one of the holes in whats left of our swiss cheese rights.

  74. Isn’t it the cops and their apologists that always say:

    If you don’t do anything wrong you have nothing to worry about.

    I say have a federal law that allows taping cops any place at any time. After all, if they don’t do anything wrong they have nothing to worry about.

  75. VM, take your batin’ nonsense somewhere else. You’re giving us a far more probing look into your psyche than mine.

  76. I say have a federal law that allows taping cops any place at any time. After all, if they don’t do anything wrong they have nothing to worry about.

    Amen to that brother.

    Thats basically my view, re: these kinds of rights of ‘assumptions of privacy’. They apply to civilians, not to uniformed officials on duty. These guys keep passing laws telling citizens what they can and can’t do (e.g. taking pictures of overflowing garbage cans in the subway to prove the MTA isnt doing its job)…but when you try to hold them to equal standards, they say it’s ‘interfering with police work’. I call bullshit and want the SCOTUS to make the same call.

  77. Cops. Heads. Cameras. On all the time they are on duty.

    Oh, yeah.

    Come to think of it, I’d like the same deal for all government officials. I’d be okay with a few exceptions, I guess, but don’t give me any of that blanket national security crap.

  78. Any cops lurking around here care to post a comment about this?*

    *didn’t read the thread.

  79. So, you’d have no trouble if your local govt placed concealed microphones every 10 feet along public sidewalks?

    It’s been said before about video cameras (probably upthread and I missed it) and I don’t see why it should be any different about audio:

    Give everyone access to the feeds and I don’t care if you put recording devices in every public place. (For you gol’dern literalists, public restrooms ain’t public places – our pee-pees hang out there!)

  80. I know many of you have a childish aversion to authority

    As opposed to your childish obsequiousness to it.

    – Josh

  81. Kwix says: “Well, the statutes are a bit vague.
    ? 5703. Interception, disclosure or use of wire, electronic or oral communications.

    Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, a person is guilty of a felony of the third degree if he:

    1. intentionally intercepts, endeavors to intercept, or procures any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept any wire, electronic or oral communication;
    2. intentionally discloses or endeavors to disclose to any other person the contents of any wire, electronic or oral communication, or evidence derived therefrom, knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through the interception of a wire, electronic or oral communication; or
    3. intentionally uses or endeavors to use the contents of any wire, electronic or oral communication, or evidence derived therefrom, knowing or having reason to know, that the information was obtained through the interception of a wire, electronic or oral communication.”

    Ummm, no the statutes are a bit broad and over-sweeping. Under this law, if Hillary Clinton stood up in a crowded restaurant and shouted at Bill at the top of her lungs, “You stinking cheating bastard, getting blow jobs with that dirty little whore …”, and anyone within the jurisdiction of this law, including a news station, tells anyone about this choice piece of gossip, they are guilty of a felony, since the statute does not say there has to be any attempt by the parties involved to keep that “oral communication” private.

    * Insert Monica / “contents of oral communication” joke here *

  82. highnumber,

    There’s always David Brin’s The Transparent Society. The basic idea isn’t original to him, of course, but he’s been beating the bongos on it for a number of years. All cameras, all the time, with universal access to the feeds for all. I’m not sure that I love the idea completely, but it beats the all-cameras-on-everyone-but-the-government model.

  83. Right, probably not my first choice, either.
    If we are going to have cameras for the public safety, though, won’t more eyes lead to more safety, and why should the gov’t’s agents be above the same scrutiny?

  84. Just when I think Radley can’t come up with anything more to make me want to vomit, he goes and psots that link to the Siler case. If my cousin’s husband(drug interdiction cop), things might get interesting.

  85. Should say “If my cousin’s husband comes to christmas…”

  86. Late to the party, as always.

    Around the Seattle area, it legal to video anything in public (according to the cops who let my tape them rousting some public drunks).

  87. “Isn’t it the cops and their apologists that always say:

    If you don’t do anything wrong you have nothing to worry about.”
    Yeah, but thats one of those many things cops say that they never want applied to them (like don’t speed, which they do around here seemingly quite often). I also love it when one is caught doing wrong (shooting some kid in the back or something) and they scream about understanding what it must have been like to have been in their situation, but when they have an accused person they reflect everything through the worst light possible. Before you say: that’s their job, hold on, its not their job to get convictions per se, it is do justice. Clearing someone should be just as celebrated as arresting someone. But they often don’t think that way…

  88. Oh, I’m all for having video feeds from cameras in public places available on the ‘Net. The difference is, that when you’re in a public place, you know that people can see you from far away. So, you can’t assume your visible actions will be private; this is why very, very few people do visible things like pulling down their pants and doing a testicular self-exam, defecating on the sidewalk, or similar things, in public, even though they feel comfortable doing such things in private.

    But if you’re walking down the street with your friend, and no one else is nearby, you have reason to believe that anything you say in a normal conversational tone is between you and your friend (unless (s)he repeats it). If a microphone is concealed next to the sidewalk, the entire world is going to have access to you telling a racist/ethnic joke, a juicy bit about someone at your office, your stated evaluation of a member of the opposite sex, or something else you’d rather not have the world hear you saying. And please don’t tell me you never say anything you wouldn’t have the whole world know about, when you’re in a public place with no one but the intended audience around.

  89. I guess a shorter version of the above is: video shows you what is happening and nothing else. Audio is less effective at showing what is happening, but it does show what people are saying. That makes it much more problematic as far as privacy goes.

  90. If I am talking to a friend about a chick I know and it is recorded and posted on the net for all to see I will take 100 to 1 odds that nobody will care/view/giveacrap. If I am a cop who verbally threatens a fellow citizen those odd change drastically.

  91. You know, I’m going to go one step farther than those that say cops should have cameras/microphones on them at all times. They should also have to have on them, while on duty, something that can track their whereabouts.

  92. Nick M. | June 12, 2007, 8:20pm | #

    You know, I’m going to go one step farther than those that say cops should have cameras/microphones on them at all times

    Beatchya to it Nick

    http://www.vnunet.com/vnunet/news/2169368/british-police-tech

  93. What about the blind? What good does the video do them without sound?

    huh?

    huh?

  94. Gilmore,

    That’s good for the video/sound side, but what about my damn tracking chips?

  95. Before you jump on the no expectation of privacy for sound consider this. It has been ruled that energy radiating from your home is in the public domain, such as heat and the use of IR devices by the police. The same logic could be applied when the cops use a laser listening device on the outside of your window. The acoustical energy on the public side of your window could be fair game in warrantless surveilence.

    It’s tough to agrue against the claim that a public servant, doing a public job, in plain view has any right to privacy. But beware what you ask for.

  96. Didn’t the court rule the opposite way in Kyllo?

    I would think that by the standard in that case, anything sound that was audible to the unaided ear at the sidewalk would be fair game, but using a laser device to sense the sympathetic vibrations of the window glass, or even a mic pressed to the glass, would require a warrant.

  97. Scooby, we can hope that SCOTUS continues along the Kyllo line. Kyllo was decided before Sept 11, so the court may have a different take on it now. However, if we maintain that you can’t record people without their permission or a warrant, we don’t have to worry about too much.

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