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Recording Police Misconduct is Illegal

michael posted more than 13 years ago | from the getting-the-short-end-of-the-nightstick dept.

Privacy 354

mypalmike writes: "The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts has upheld a lower court's decision that it is illegal to record what happens to you when get pulled over by the police. It seems they are citing a rule which essentially prohibits all recording in which the recording is made secretly. Maybe I can sue the local quickiemart for secretly recording me as I purchase a slushie. (Reported in the Boston Globe)." I'm not sure I understand this. Aren't almost all police cars these days equipped with video cameras that record everything occuring in front of the car?

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well... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#85431)

once the news media gets a copy who gives a crap

"illegal" or not it's real

Re:News for nerds (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#85432)

yeah, it has NOTHING about how EVIL microsoft is... wtf is up with THAT?

Re:Try this... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#85433)

Are you supposed to even speak when you get pulled over by a cop?

Suppose I launch the recording just before the cop pulled you over, the cop come by me:

Cop: "Driving License, please"
Me: "Ok, just want to tell you that..."
Cop: "Shut Up, freeze, get out the car, put your hand behinf your head!"
Me: "But..."
Cop : "Just shut the fuck up!, you're under arrest for non cooperative attitude"

Re:yeah, but... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#85434)

The Massachusetts law was passed quite a while ago. The issue here is the AUDIO recording of the incident. The exact same charges would have been filed against the kid if he used a cassette recorder to tape the incident without the knowledge of the other party. IANAL, but, if the camera was in an open place, say mounted on the dash pointing at the driver's side window, it *might* have been legal. If he told the cop "I'm recording this incident" then the cop would have specific knowledge and could base his further actions on that knowledge.

Hmm, overturned on appeal? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#85435)

This ruling flies in the face of common sense and the intent of the wiretapping laws.

Starting with the Rodney King case, videotaping police without their consent is a cornerstone of civilian activism against police brutality and abuse of authority. The police are public servants that operate entirely in public, and entirely on the taxpayer dollar. The citezenry have every right to videotape the police, and I feel that this behaviour should be encouraged rather than punished as it will lead to honest and law-abiding police officers. It is a sad commentary on our society when the police have to be blackmailed into behaving with the threat of being caught on camera.

Forgetting for a second that we have every right to make sure the police are actually "serving and protecting," we must remember that the police operate in public. They are not after all, "secret state police" are they? Just as you have a right to videotape the squirrels in a park, you have a right to video tape an officer when he is performing his duties in public.

This sort of worries me though. Why would two courts in a row decide against public scrutiny of police? I feel as tho there is something being left out.

Re:yeah, but... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#85436)

If he told the cop "I'm recording this incident" then the cop would have specific knowledge and could base his further actions on

Yes, the policeman could have smashed the recorder and destroyed the tape to add to his other crimes. That would really help.

Re:Us laws are wierd. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#85437)

Especially the 'wiretapping' bs where tape recording your OWN phone call is considered 'wiretapping'.

It is only considered wiretapping in a few states. If Monica Lewinski were taped in New York, there would be no problem. But she wasn't. I believe it was Maryland that has the screwy law.

Err.. (1)

Wakko Warner (324) | more than 13 years ago | (#85444)

This ruling only applies to the state of Massachusetts, for one thing. It'll also no doubt be appealed until it's overturned (repeat N times...)

What's this got to do with Linux anyway?


Re:Try this... (2)

Chuck Milam (1998) | more than 13 years ago | (#85450)

Is larceny a felony? I believe you can only make a citizen's arrest for a felony-level crime.

Bumper Sticker (2)

booch (4157) | more than 13 years ago | (#85453)

"This Car Subject to Video Taping"

That should satisy the requirement that the recording not be made without notification.

More BS (2)

Chas (5144) | more than 13 years ago | (#85454)

It's illegal to try to obtain proof that the broken jaw and strangulation bruises really come from the cops and aren't self inflicted.


Chas - The one, the only.

Funniest Home Videos - Candid Camera (1)

Zombie (8332) | more than 13 years ago | (#85460)

Does this mean that they'll throw Bill Cosby et al. in jail next? This might actually be a good thing!

In further news, hurricane Hugo is sueing the news media for having recorded his actions without prior written consent. Hugo's legal counsel has stated that they intend to plea that this law should be extended to all antropomorphised entities.

Quid custodiet custodes? (2)

crovira (10242) | more than 13 years ago | (#85463)

Who will watch the watchers? Not you obviously.

As for obtaining video records from government agencies, good luck: "Do you know the number of the video tape on which the alleged action was recorded?" Of course not. You couldn't possibly.

Maybe Kazinski wasn't completely wrong about everything.

We live in societies bound by two webs. One of trust and one of deceit. Some people are constantly stradlling lines from both.

Re:Us laws are wierd. (4)

Syberghost (10557) | more than 13 years ago | (#85465)

Most of the US is like that, too. Canada tends to pass national laws, but the US Constitutionally leaves most questions to the states.

So what you should have said is "Massachusetts is weird."

And, you'd be right; we have a certain bunch of states that tend to have weird-ass laws that don't reflect the rest of the country. Massachusetts is among them. More power to 'em; they can have whatever laws they want, without affecting me.


Re:NO (5)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 13 years ago | (#85466)

Do it openly and your gear will be confiscated, and if you're not lucky, other stuff you own too. The cop will probably start looking really hard for stuff to arrest you for too. At any rate, you won't get your recording. SECRETLY is the only way to get your recording and force a certain level of accountability.

put an x10 camera in your car (4)

peter303 (12292) | more than 13 years ago | (#85467)

As that unbiquitous popup ad asks.

The good with the bad (1)

sherms (15634) | more than 13 years ago | (#85474)

G) You can moon the cop!
B) He can beet the shit out of you (no video :)

G) you can swear at him.
B) He can swear back.

G) you can make up a bogus harrassment call
B) He can to

I think this state screw up badly.

Re:The good with the bad (1)

sherms (15634) | more than 13 years ago | (#85475)

There goes are ability to see what cop did!

Re:Time to make a card for my car... (1)

sherms (15634) | more than 13 years ago | (#85476)

Utah also permits recording as long as one or more partys know about it. The Police officer counts as one.

The Quickiemart Thing Is Different (3)

BRock97 (17460) | more than 13 years ago | (#85484)

Unless you are blind, all quickiemarts (aka 7-Eleven, Kum and Go, etc) have some form of sticker when you enter the shop that says the place is under the camera's eye. So, in that respect, it is different. Sorry, but no legal action for you.

Bryan R.

Legal technophobia is news for nerds (2)

Adam J. Richter (17693) | more than 13 years ago | (#85485)

The police abusing a bad law is not news specifically for nerds, but this is also about the bigger issue of the dangers of legislative overreaction to technology, in this case, the ever cheaper and smaller video cameras.

Re:Try this... (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 13 years ago | (#85487)

> if there is one thing I have learned is that cops love to twist your words around.

And then there are the illiterates. I saw an accident report with the ever-helpful:
He ran in to him.


OT {Re:Expectation of privacy} (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 13 years ago | (#85488)

> The police are here to server us.

Just wanted to say that I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who always gets an "r" on the end of "serve", whether it's needed or not. I swear, my brain thinks the word is spelled s-e-r-v-e-r-backspace.


Just at hought.. (2)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 13 years ago | (#85489)

but 'wiretapping', I thought, by definnition, was when an electronic conversation was eavesdropped on.
Recording a meatspace conversation is not wiretapping..

Re:Us laws are wierd. (2)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 13 years ago | (#85490)

True enough.
I just know I've heard about this type of interpretation of state wiretapping laws in several states... so much that the common person on the street (even in canada) is under the impression that its' illegal to record a conversation without the permission of all parties.

It's rediculous.... and this court ruling is doubly rediculous. Wiretapping laws were to prevent eavsdropping on telephone conversations....not to prevent people from recording what they are legally hearing.

To correct you. (2)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 13 years ago | (#85491)

Wiretapping laws are supposed to safeguard privacy, you got that right.

But if I call you on the phone, you have no expectation of privacy with regards to me. You can expect that whatever you say into the phone, I will hear (and be able to record, etc).
It's only some states that have 'abused' the wording of their anti-wiretap statutes, interpreting recording your OWN phone calls as 'intercepting' the communications. (By classical definition, you cannot intercept something already destined for you)

Us laws are wierd. (4)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 13 years ago | (#85493)

Especially the 'wiretapping' bs where tape recording your OWN phone call is considered 'wiretapping'.

Canada, lots of other places, you can record any conversation so long as at least one party involved knows about it. I believe the same goes for video. (You can't video tape people in a private place without their permission, but if you are one of the people involved...)

Sounds simple to me. (2)

Restil (31903) | more than 13 years ago | (#85502)

Tell the officer he's being recorded. You don't have to show him the recording device, nor do you actually have to have one. In fact, you can put a notice on the driver's side window that says something to the effect "Traffic stops may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance." or some BS like that. Then that whole "I didn't know I was being recorded bit" doesn't apply. Of course, if you actually SAY you're being recorded, then its on the recording as well, and they'll have a REALLY hard time dening that they knew about it.

The problem with is, is the fact that the whole REASON for recording police encounters is to have later evidence of police wrongdoing. If the police KNOW they're being recorded and they commit said act of wrongdoing, they will probably attempt to confiscate or destroy any recording devices. The way around this is to not HAVE any recording devices in the car. Use a cell phone to transmit the encounter and have a recorder on the other end.

In fact, if you're recording the conversation over the phone, you might not even have to disclose that fact. It HAS been proven in court that only one participant in a phone conversation has to know they're being recorded. I wonder....


Re:News for nerds (1)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 13 years ago | (#85508)

1. This situation applies to everyone. People have been pulled over/encounterd police regardless if they are nerds or not.

2. There are alot of these "the government is corrupt and there is very little in the way of justice" around. Why this one?

Re:News for nerds (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 13 years ago | (#85512)

I remember that some of those who were nerds acutally did things to deserve bullying.

No bullying victim ("nerd" or not) deserves to be bullied based on their behavior, any more than any rape victim deserves to be raped based on what they were wearing.

So are you trolling, or just a total and complete asshole?

Tom Swiss | the infamous tms |

Re:Err.. (2)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 13 years ago | (#85513)

And the United Nations meeting in New York is about removing all guns from private ownership.

Don't belive everything you read in Black Helicopter Times, ok? While there are definitely legitimate RKBA concerns with the proposals to limit small-arms sales, suggesting that the U.N. is assmbling a plan to confiscate our firearms is exageration.

Tom Swiss | the infamous tms |

Nice Summary (3)

interiot (50685) | more than 13 years ago | (#85514)

David Yas, publisher of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, said the wiretapping law was established to protect citizens against government oppression.

"The preamble to the law said electronic devices are a danger to the privacy of all citizens. This case turns that notion on its head because here we had an individual trying to protect himself from a misdeed on the part of public officials and he's the one who ends up being arrested for it and prosecuted," Yas said.

Varies by State & cuts both ways. (2)

redelm (54142) | more than 13 years ago | (#85517)

IANAL. The legality of one-party recordings varies by state. In some states (Maryland & Massachusetts apparently), all parties must know of the recording. In some others (Texas), only one party need consent to a recording. Check with a lawyer.

Of course, this cuts both ways: the police may or may not need to inform you of their recordings. In all states and Federally AFAIK, evesdropping without either party's consent is illegal.

Is it still illegal if the driver is using... (1)

Old Wolf (56093) | more than 13 years ago | (#85518)

...a Beowulf cluster of hidden cameras?

Public Place? (5)

NetJunkie (56134) | more than 13 years ago | (#85519)

The part of the article that concerns me is where the Judge said the Rodney King video would have been prohibited in that state. Didn't that take place on a public road? You couldn't record the actions of police in a PUBLIC place?

Be interesting to see if police want to set up video cameras with face matching software in Boston in a few months....

Re:Try this... (1)

StormReaver (59959) | more than 13 years ago | (#85522)

I was thinking something similar. If the issue is simply that of secrecy, tell them, "For quality control purposes, this encounter is being recorded."

Another defence..... (3)

romco (61131) | more than 13 years ago | (#85528)

OK this is a out there...

But your honor I was helping the police officer
with HIS DUTY to record any interviews with suspects.

FROM: inalProcedure312_388/7police_interrogation_recordi ng_e.htm

In Commonwealth v. Diaz, 422 Mass. 269 (1996), the SJC stated that "[w]e decline at this time to adopt or prescribe a rule of general superintendence or of common law suppressing statements taken from a defendant in custody in a police station unless those statements have been electronically recorded. However, defense counsel is entitled to pursue the failure of the police to record a defendant's statements. Counsel may, for example, inquire of a testifying police officer, as happened here, whether he or she was aware of the availability of recorders to use during the questioning of suspects. Counsel may argue to a jury and to a judge as factfinder that the failure of the police to record electronically statements made in a place of custody should be considered in deciding the voluntariness of any statement, whether the defendant was properly advised of his rights, and whether any statement attributed to the defendant was made."

Thinge that make you go hmmm....

Re:sig (1)

Scurrilous Knave (66691) | more than 13 years ago | (#85565)

Asimov probably said it more than once, but the quote is usually attributed to Arthur C. Clarke.

Re:yeah, but... (1)

Ded Bob (67043) | more than 13 years ago | (#85566)

where I live, there are cameras in a bus interchange, and there are signs up saying that cameras may be monitoring you.

Those are probably posted to discourage crime (i.e., mugging) at those location(s).

Scared me there for a second! (5)

smirkleton (69652) | more than 13 years ago | (#85567)

I thought you said "Police Misconduct is Illegal".


News for nerds (1)

skware (78429) | more than 13 years ago | (#85574)

I don't quite understand how this is really news for nerds...

Re:yeah, but... (1)

skware (78429) | more than 13 years ago | (#85575)

isn't there some sort of law that you must be informed of it though, like where I live, there are cameras in a bus interchange, and there are signs up saying that cameras may be monitoring you.

Re:yeah, but... (1)

HardFocus (87842) | more than 13 years ago | (#85584)

> If he told the cop "I'm recording this incident" then the
> cop would have specific knowledge and could base his
> further actions on

> Yes, the policeman could have smashed the recorder
> and destroyed the tape to add to his other crimes.
> That would really help.

Well, in my case he would be smashing the decoy recorder on the dash board. Meanwhile another hidden recorder would record both the fact that he was properly informed and his act of destroying private property.

Fortunately for me, all this is unnecessary: I'm not a member of a visiable minority and I don't have an attitude problem so everything is pretty well "by the book".



Try this... (5)

JoeShmoe (90109) | more than 13 years ago | (#85587)

Next time a cop pulls you over, whip out a tape recorder and politely tell them that you are making a record of everything.

I'm kinda curious if they would ask you to stop or not. In any event, it seems like a great idea because if there is one thing I have learned is that cops love to twist your words around. I once told a cop my license plate was in my trunk because my front mounting bracket was broken and when the cop recounted my statement it had somehow become that i refused to mount a front license plate to avoid photorader. Jerk.

Just get a bumpter sticker (5)

Sc00ter (99550) | more than 13 years ago | (#85591)

The sticker says "Anybody pulling over this car will be video taped, if you don't like it, don't pull me over". Then the cop knows he's being video taped.

Seriously.. I've been pulled over a few times, I don't know if they were taping or not, but if they were, I did NOT know about it.. And if you watch these police videos on TV, the drunk people that get pulled over also don't know they're being taped, so how could that be evidence?


Re:Try this... (2)

Khopesh (112447) | more than 13 years ago | (#85599)

That's exaclty what I was about to post, but I also wondered if anybody knew - can they even legally take the device? do you have to reveal where it is hidden?

But it's legal - I swear! (5)

cluge (114877) | more than 13 years ago | (#85602)

Somewhere on a dark night outside of Boston

The lights flash, and a siren wails. "Damn cops, they are on to me." As I pull over I flip the face plate down so they can't see I have cajun [] in the car and quickly hit the hidden record button []

"Do you know why I pulled you over boy?"
"No SIR!"
"You have a picture of a penguin on your car, you know the Linux operating system is illegal don't you??"
"Yes Sir I only run Microsoft product as per the constitutional amendment of 2015, Sir"
"You wouldn't be an illegal coder would you? I see the case of Jolt cola there, and I think I see an O'Reilly book on your back seat, thats damn near probable cause to search your car!"
"But sir, I'm just a lowly cleaner, see all the cleaning supplies. I found this stuff in an storage unit I was cleaning out".

I showed him my pay stub for the idiots I work for. I knew going through those old storage lockers would net me someting eventually. The cop bought it. Berated me for the penguin sign, said even though it wasn't illegal he'd take it off the car. I promised I would. Cop said owning a O'reilley book was illegal even though I knew it wasn't. I tried to argue but got a quick slap in the face. Ended up giving him the book, don't want him opening the trunk. We parted amicably, my cheek still stinging. Wow what a bitch slap that was. He probably dresses in drag on the weekends.

I'll use my new face recgonition software and cross my video with the video feed we have at dumbkin dognuts. Have to keep an eye on this one, he must of spotted that penguin sticker from 200 meters or more.

Over the top can't happen? Well at one time I would have thought that you could always record what a public official does in public. MA is interesting. I guess those laws allowed a senator from the state to get away with murder (or at least negligenct homicide), but prevent a common citizen from protecting himself from a authority figure abusing his/her power.

"Science is about ego as much as it is about discovery and truth"

defend this officer's rights with your life (1)

fringd (120235) | more than 13 years ago | (#85605)

don't let your initial reaction overwhelm you. there is another very real side to this debate. i like my privacy. alot. just because this means police officers have that same right doesn't mean it's wrong or should be revoked. maybe the specific situation should be considered to not have an expectation of privacy, but we should not let ourselves become enraged simply because the one party was an officer, or a jerk. the privacy law is good, and lacking in most states. it protects everyone equally, and that's sorta the sucky part about these rights we give ourselves, they protect everyone the same. until we can prove they are doing something wrong, we must respect their right to privacy.

Re:NO (5)

gengee (124713) | more than 13 years ago | (#85607)

Yet another example of a typical Slashdot You-Deserve-It response.

The extent of your stupidity is frightening.

Firstly, I can hide in the bushes on a sidewalk and secretly record passers-by. If someone is standing on their balcony having sex, I can videotape that as well (so long as it's in plain view).

In the United States, you have the right to privacy where you might reasonably expect it. This includes your home, the trunk of your car, etc. It does not, however, describe a bubble that travels around with you protecting you wherever you go.

The fact that the person being recorded in this instance was a public official only furthers the point. Courts have held time and time again that those who have by their own will become famous have less rights to privacy than normal citizens do. This is because there reasonable expectation of privacy goes down as their fame increases. The premise is basically the same in this case: The police officer cannot, while being paid by taxpayers, expect any form of privacy.

I'd like to find the hookups the Mass. Supreme Court has, because they're smoking some good fucking crack. I hope very much this is appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court where it will no doubt be overturned.
signature smigmature

Re:To correct you. (1)

bildstorm (129924) | more than 13 years ago | (#85610)

Interesting point.

The question would then be how many states have had rather unscrupulous majorities in their governments to get a law passed that only matters if you do underhanded dealings with unsavory individuals who might sell you out?

Can we get a list of what states have laws similar to Massachusetts?

Secrecy and recording (2)

bildstorm (129924) | more than 13 years ago | (#85611)

The application of a wiretapping law to such things is ridiculous. Wiretapping legistlation is to protect people who have no possibility to be aware that they would be viewed or recorded, such as people who are in the privacy of their homes or offices. If I call up a cop and talk to him and record what he says, then I am guilty of illegal wiretapping.

The same would apply if I had gone to a cop's house of office and performed the same activity. Again, they have a reasonable expectation of privacy, and thus should not be expected to be observed or recorded.

Even undercover police, operating undercover, could have the same legislation used with a little stretching, as it is in the spirit of the law.

However, if a police office pulls over another car, they are making an obvious presence, alerting everyone in the area to their activity. In any situation where you make a decided and obvious presence of yourself, you are now acting in a public capacity. It is no different than a public offical giving a speech or a military convoy rolling into my town. Those are obvious actions, and in the case for someone being harrassed without reason, it can be an embarrassing situation.

Simply put, if the cops can pull me over in full view of everyone else, and they're testimony in court can decided immediately (often without other evidence) that I'm guily of obstructing justice or harrassing an office of the peace, then why can't I as a citizen, record my encounter with the police in that situation, whether they know it or not?

Are we going to start arresting every person who records police raids that happen across their street because they didn't alert the police to the event?

This stop may be recorded for quality assurance... (1)

iconnor (131903) | more than 13 years ago | (#85612)

It is about time we (the people) started saying that.

Secrecy is bad? (3)

No Such Agency (136681) | more than 13 years ago | (#85614)

Anyone interested in the legal and moral ramifications of this case should read "The Transparent Society" by David Brin. Brin's argument is an unpopular one here (total privacy hurts the little guy more than it benefits us, including legal strong encryption etc.) but he has very good points about public surveillance. He advocates UK-style street surveillance cameras, with the footage available to everyone and not just the police. Unless people have the ability to "watch the watchers" as well as they can watch us, abuses WILL occur.

That said, IMO, This guy was pretty foolish, taking the tape to the police. On TV, "IA" (Internal Affairs) may look like they're out to get the beat cops for any little thing, but in reality the Blue Wall still thrives, and unless you have a good lawyer they will F**K you. Next time, take it to the PRESS! It may not be "just" but the spotlight of public attention might be the only way to force the police to respond appropriately.

Re:Are you sure? (1)

MichaelJ (140077) | more than 13 years ago | (#85619)

Take a look at the back of your ticket the next time you attend a sporting event. I'll bet that you'll see something similar to:

The ticketholder agrees that ... shall have the unrestricted right and license to use his or her likeness as included in any broadcast, telecast, or photograph taken in connection with the game.

The holder grants permission to ... utilize holders image or likeness incidental to any live or recorded video display or other transmission or reproduction in whole or in part of the event to which this ticket admits them.

Michael J.

Expectation of privacy (5)

fleener (140714) | more than 13 years ago | (#85620)

People do not have an expectation of privacy in public places. That's why there are video cameras on police cruiser dashboards, on street corners and in stores, but not (legally) in bathrooms. To say people cannot tape record activity occuring in their own car and on public streets is, at best, asinine.

The police are here to server us. They are agents of the people. The Massachusetts Supreme Court has made them agents of power and eliminated the one check-and-balance we had available to us for protection from abuse of power.

Re:News for nerds (2)

EvlPenguin (168738) | more than 13 years ago | (#85635)

Do they need affirmative action to get a job?

No an neither should you. This is totally unrelated, but I have karma to burn.

Affirmative action is one of the worst steps this country has ever taken against its citizens. Why?

Say you're a while male. Can't get any more generic than that, eh? You have ten years experience in your field and have a strong resume. You're applying for a position in company x. However, company x now has a quota called "affirmative action", that says they can't hire you because they need atleast y people from ethnic group z. You are not of ethnic group z, so you do not get the job.

Meanwhile, someone from ethnic group z with only 5 years experience and a so-so resume gets the job. Don't tell me it isn't true, because I see it every day, not just at the company I work for now, but in the past when I was going on interviews. It's disgusting, and is another example of how far from a democracy (or atleast capitalism) we really are. "Equal opportunities" goes against the very concept of capitalism, which is, like it or not, the basis of the US economy.

Am I the only one who thinks the person with the most experience should get the job, not the person who fits into a certain ethnic quota?

But... (1)

neema (170845) | more than 13 years ago | (#85636)

"Aren't almost all police cars these days equipped with video cameras that record everything occuring in front of the car?"

Yeah, it's been a real hassle for the police people. Now they have to drag the innocent victim to the back of the car before they deliver a savage beating.

What if... (1)

Ghost_5316 (182499) | more than 13 years ago | (#85643)

What if the police officer turned off his/her secret camera, could you then record him/her beating you to a bloody pulp?

Remote Recording? (2)

Speaker to Sendmail (195006) | more than 13 years ago | (#85651)

Hmmm... You'd probably have to be crazier than I to try it, but what do you think would happen if you called your voice mail from a portable and announced "Good evening, Officer. This conversation is being transmitted, and recorded at a remote location."

Sure, they could still refuse you permission, or even smash your phone to bits and you afterwards, but that long silence at the end of the tape is going raise some real interesting questions in the mind of any judge or jury that hears it.

Like I said, it's probably not worth the risk, unless maybe you're a member of a group at high risk for police abuse. Nevertheless, I think I'll go max out the disconnect time on my voice mail at work. Just in case I ever want it.

Re:Video vs. Sound (1)

Xoro (201854) | more than 13 years ago | (#85657)

Well, they have it backwards then.

At least making secret videotaping illegal would put those popup-loving bastards at out of business...

Police camera (1)

jfonseca (203760) | more than 13 years ago | (#85662)

Perl police
Camera []

Re:News for nerds (3)

rchatterjee (211000) | more than 13 years ago | (#85666)

Being a nerd, remember getting mistreated by bullies back in school? Remember telling the teacher and being told you'll need some solid proof before any actions would be taken or being told to not be a "tattle-tale"? And remember that bitter taste when nothing was done to them? Well some bullies grow up to wear uniforms, and this decision basically takes away one of your ways of having proof should you be mistreated, thus opening the path for you again taste the bitterness of injustice.

NO (1)

NortonDC (211601) | more than 13 years ago | (#85667)

SECRETLY recording police misconduct is illegal. Read it, ok?

Re:NO (1)

NortonDC (211601) | more than 13 years ago | (#85668)

If you want to be frightened by me, there are much better choices than my alleged stupidity. I still don't think you've grasped the enormous distinction staring you in the face:


Do it openly, and it's protected. Do it secretly, and your moving into wiretapping territory. As of now, there is now blanket exception from wiretapping law for the monitoring of public officials engaged in their duties.

But why bother letting the basic facts interfere with your rant. Go ahead, knock yourself out.

Re:NO (1)

NortonDC (211601) | more than 13 years ago | (#85669)

"is no" rather than "is now" Fear my typing.

Re:NO (1)

NortonDC (211601) | more than 13 years ago | (#85670)

You guys really don't get the fourteenth amendment. The court's observation is that the law applies to the cops to. I LIKE that idea. LOTS. If you want to place cops in a different category, not held to the same laws as you and me, then your line of reasoning is the way to do it.

And the idea that secrecy increases accountability is absurd. Openness is the source of accountability, while secrecy is it's antithesis.

Link to the opinion (1)

hearingaid (216439) | more than 13 years ago | (#85673)

The Globe's coverage is actually pretty good, as I would expect from them. However, the opinion itself is here. []

Note that the opinion is still subject to appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, on constitutional grounds only. I can see some pretty major First Amendment problems with it.

Time to make a card for my car... (2)

(H)elix1 (231155) | more than 13 years ago | (#85682)

"This car is equiped with electronic monitoring, blah, blah, blah..." just like the stores. If it works for them, it should work for me.

Course, I think MN permits you to record if you are part of the conversation, so this is not an issue here (yet). Wonder if that would be enought to cover you in Massachusetts?

Re:Err.. (1)

txguy1 (245429) | more than 13 years ago | (#85687)

Other states are not required to follow this ruling. It is merely persuasive. Also relevant is whether a state requires 2 parties to a conversation to be aware of the audio recording or only one party. Some states are 1-party states and allow you to record telephone calls or other conversations that you are a party to without informing the other party. Recall that Linda Tripp ran into trouble for recording Lewinsky in Maryland--a 2 party state. Not a problem in 1-party states, who would be very unlikely to find the Mass. ruling persuasive. Different standard applies to audio recordings than video w/ no sound. IANAL.

Re:Err.. (1)

Namoric (245957) | more than 13 years ago | (#85688)

The problem is many judges refer to other cases for similar rulings... called precidents. It's also been ruled by the supreme court that the police are not responsible for your safety. Their only job is to catch the "outlaw" after the crime. And the United Nations meeting in New York is about removing all guns from private ownership.

Makes you wonder, don't it? If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns

Re:News for nerds (1)

Namoric (245957) | more than 13 years ago | (#85689)

Free Kevin!!!!

Thats how this applies to Slashdot

Re:Another defence..... (1)

dkaplowitz (248055) | more than 13 years ago | (#85690)

" minalProcedure312_388/7police_interrogation_record ing_e.htm"

All Recording Laws at a Glance.... (5)

EABinGA (253382) | more than 13 years ago | (#85693)

For those that would like an overview of the Recording Laws in the 50 states: []

Also has links to the relevant state codes concerning this.

Are you sure? (1)

Kibo (256105) | more than 13 years ago | (#85694)

What's the last sporting event you attended?

Re:NO (1)

Sarcasmooo! (267601) | more than 13 years ago | (#85698)

Ok, so I guess police misconduct is acceptable if the police who aren't expecting to be taped.

Re:This is absolutely rediculous (not) (1)

Sarcasmooo! (267601) | more than 13 years ago | (#85699)

Awwwww, shaddap.

This is absolutely rediculous (4)

Sarcasmooo! (267601) | more than 13 years ago | (#85703)

US residents that don't work in law enforcement are now 2nd class citizens. Whether FBI, IRS, local police, or other, the 'commoners' are prohibited from criticizing you [] , identifying you to the public [] , or recording your actions in the same public areas that you record theirs [] .

Re:Try this... (3)

StressedEd (308123) | more than 13 years ago | (#85719)

Perhaps in light of this your politzi will try to prosecute the people that recorded them "interrogating" Rodney King.... ....the law is an odd planet. Hmm.... Cameras-cameras everywhere....

This remindes me of a missed opportunity.

A friend of mine is making a film and they were practicing some of there scenes in Hyde Park which involved the use of BB guns (toys that fire plastic pellets).

Now as the more astute of you may be aware, hand guns were made illegal over here a while ago and the police (rightly in my opinion) take a pretty hard line with threats to the public.

So when someone phoned them and said "There's a man with orange hair shooting people in Hyde Park", what were they supposed to do?

Well what they did was to send in a heavilly armed anti-terrorist-style unit, complete with helicopter to "take-down" these people who, by that time, had begun to play frisbee and were completely unaware that within the space of 10 seconds they would find there faces in the ground with guns pointed at them...

If only they'd got that on film! It could have been great as part of the story line!

Re:NO (1)

karmawarrior (311177) | more than 13 years ago | (#85725)

I think the point is that the recording has to be open - known to the people being recorded, there's no requirement it be consensual.

It's more "Excuse me officer, but before you remove your baton, I'd just like you to know you're being recorded. Touch me and it'll be on FOX's "When Cops Beat Motorists" tomorrow.

This, perhaps, is one of those cases where the great marketing adage really does applies: "It's better to beg for forgiveness than to ask permission."

Our favorite policeman has a problem (1)

k-flex$ (315275) | more than 13 years ago | (#85726)

chief wiggum: "is that you fat tony?"

fat tony: "hey wheres that voice coming from?!"

Re:yeah, but... (1)

Maxlor (315315) | more than 13 years ago | (#85727)

If he told the cop "I'm recording this incident" then the cop would have specific knowledge and could base his further actions on that knowledge.

It is weird that this point should even be made. After all, isn't a police officer supposed to act well enough so it wouldn't make a difference whether his actions are being recorded or not? You make it sound (with a point tho) as if a police officer who knows his actions are not being observed (save by his victim, but that doesnt matter much...), acts in an illegimite fashion...

Re:yeah, but... (3)

ProfessorPuke (318074) | more than 13 years ago | (#85731)

Oh yes the ARE recording secretly. He was taping you from the minute the guy pulled over, and his first words to the suspect were NOT "To ensure your satisfaction, this traffic-stop will be monitored". Patrol cars never seem to have prominent signs warning of video cameras inside.

The legal reason for that is that the wiretapping statute only applies to audio recordings, not video, so the police and the department stores can take all the pictures of you they want.

Re:NO (2)

Marcus Brody (320463) | more than 13 years ago | (#85733)

SECRETLY recording police misconduct is illegal. Read it, ok?

Problem solved:

"Excuse me officer, do you mind if I film you whilst you give me a good beating?"

You guys need a RIP act (2)

Marcus Brody (320463) | more than 13 years ago | (#85734)

The UK is the most under-survelliance country in the world. If I take a trip into central london, I am apparantly filmed over 300 times by CCTV cameras. This is also true for most major towns/cities in the country. Personally, I do not like this fact, even though I have absolutley no intention of breaking the law (at least not in front of a CCTV camera ;-).
Interestingly, the recent Regulatory and Investigatory Powers (RIP) bill included a law which makes this data available for all. Any organisation (company, government etc) which holds data on you must issue with this data, if you send a request letter and £10 (for administration costs.)
Therefore, if the police, for example, beat me up on a London street, I could demand a copy of the inevitable CCTV recordings.

That's the theory anyhow.

Re:Try this... (3)

gd23ka (324741) | more than 13 years ago | (#85737)

Well, what do you think will happen? They'll confiscate the device and wipe the recording. It's also doubtful whether they will give it back to you and they'll probably also feel the need to teach a lesson to an uppity ci-villian.

Public places? (1)

4444444 (444444) | more than 13 years ago | (#85742)

I thought you could record anything you wanted in a public place?
I would assume if your pulled over you would be pulled over in a public place?

Re:Public Place? (1)

4444444 (444444) | more than 13 years ago | (#85743)

Hey you beet me with essencially the same post!
Now I'm gonna get moded redundent :-(

Re:News for nerds (1)

Nongeek (446844) | more than 13 years ago | (#85745)

Being a nerd, remember getting mistreated by bullies back in school?

I remember that many people who were bullied weren't nerds. (Not that geeks ever notice anyone's suffering but their own.) I remember that some of those who were nerds acutally did things to deserve bullying. And whether they did or not, I note that many of these geeks develop an excruciatingly irritating victim complex that they use in a passive-aggressive fashion to manipulate others throughout their adult lives -- ironically making them worse social rejects as adults than they were as children.

thus opening the path for you again taste the bitterness of injustice

What bitter injustice do most nerds face? Are they barred from the best country clubs? Do they need affirmative action to get a job? Is half the geek population rotting in jail? Has anyone attempted to ethnically cleanse them?

Or has their dot-com stock not done as well as they had hoped, thus crushing their plans to retire at age 30.

The Greatest Enemy of the State, Bad Law SPQR (1)

Zorro2001 (455789) | more than 13 years ago | (#85752)

A police officer isn't a private person, he is a public employee [who can't strike etc] whose acts reflect the dispossition of the State. The employees of the State are obliged to act with openess because as they represent the state. The state acts & those acts are the property of the people.

The power of a State is derived from the consent of the Governed not vice versa.

It is the *duty* of theState to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the people why it shall not grant liberties that are granted in other states or Countries.(?)art.4 Const. Thus we see that the state has not Constitutional rights before the Court, because by the nature of the State it acts against the desire of the people albiet for the sake of an alleged greater good. Therefor the court acting for the right of a state employee is in error. The employee is a public figuire with no right of privacy.


Wrong strategy (1)

pyramid termite (458232) | more than 13 years ago | (#85760)

I don't think that a person in this situation would be likely to get much sympathy from the police department. (And I'll bet the tape was confiscated, too.) Taking it to the cops was naive - what he should have done was posted it on the web and advertised the location with bumper stickers or flyers.

I suppose the answer to the age old question, "Who guards the guardians?" is "no one" in Massachusettes. Suggestion - bumper stickers that say "This car is under electronic surveillance" - even people who don't have recorders in their car should put them on. That way, the police have been informed. The right to record what the police are doing is a right that must be fought for.

After all, if they have nothing to hide, they shouldn't object to being recorded, right?

yeah, but... (1)

W1BMW (462297) | more than 13 years ago | (#85768)

the cop's aren't recording you secretly. That's the difference.

Re:put an x10 camera in your car (1)

webworkz (463350) | more than 13 years ago | (#85769)

I'm so sick of that damn advertisement it's not even funny. I plan to steal thousands of those cameras and start a game of home run derby. Anyone interested in playing with me? We can smash the little black camera into pieces and then stick pieces of the circuitboards to our heads to show victory over the pop-up advertisements, or pop-under advertisements as the press calls it... idiots.

Do it openly (1)

canthusus (463707) | more than 13 years ago | (#85771)

It strikes me that the case hinges on secretly recording the incident. The answer, surely is to display a notice in your car "warning, automatic sound and vision recording". Or if you want to be ironic "for your security and convenience, this incident is being recorded".

Incidentally, it's always amusing when dealing with "difficult" telephone conversations to state that the call is being recorded. Reactions range from dropping the line, to extreme professionalism.

Re:Try this... (5)

canthusus (463707) | more than 13 years ago | (#85772)

So you say "I am recording this". They confiscate the recorder they can see. You have evidence of that violation recorded on the other recorder, that they didn't see!

Is it only electronic recording? (1)

shoppa (464619) | more than 13 years ago | (#85774)

Is it only electronic recording that's banned?

If so, is it time to break out all the wax cylinder recorders that would slip under the Iron Curtain of Massacussets law?

What other technologies are available? Were there any non-electronic disk-recording dictaphones?

Re:Public Place? (1)

bartlett's (465717) | more than 13 years ago | (#85775)

Can you imagine what would have happenned in the Rodney King incident had it taken place in Massachusetts? As soon as the cops found out someone had recorded them they would arrest and prosecute the guy with the camera. (I wonder if they would beat him too).

At least two of the justices had enough sense to dissent though. I hope there's a way this ruling could be appealed in the federal courts.

Re:NO (1)

bartlett's (465717) | more than 13 years ago | (#85776)

SECRETLY recording police misconduct is illegal.

I assume that's why the submitter used the word "secretly". Don't you think?

Read it, ok?

Did you read it? Two of the justices stongly disagreed that secretly recording police misconduct is illegal. They were in the minority, but it suggests it may not be the last we hear of this case.

Video vs. Sound (2)

bartlett's (465717) | more than 13 years ago | (#85777)

secretly recording me as I purchase a slushie.

A minor point here, but I think in some jurisdictions it is legal to secretly videotape someone as long as there is no sound recorded. If sound is recorded, it is considered wiretapping.

Why the difference? I don't know.

A lesson for everybody (4)

bartlett's (465717) | more than 13 years ago | (#85778)

So the guy takes a recording of the incident to the police, and they arrest and try him for it. In addition to the fact that people need to be careful about secretly recording anyone, there's another big lesson here: if you have a dispute with the police, you need to get yourself a lawyer. And fast.

Don't fool around and try to handle things on your own, or the cops will hang you out to dry.

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