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Is Videotaping the Police a Felony?

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the turnabout-is-fair-play dept.

The Courts 622

AtomicSnarl writes "When Carlisle, PA, police noticed their traffic stop was being videotaped, they arrested the fellow with the camera for felony wiretapping. From the story: 'Kelly is charged under a state law that bars the intentional interception or recording of anyone's oral conversation without their consent... An exception to the wiretapping law allows police to film people during traffic stops.. [An assistant DA] said case law is in flux as to whether police can expect not to be recorded while performing their duties.'"

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What a Power Trip! (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484493)

I'm guessing that if it's illegal to take a picture of police [slashdot.org] than it's also illegal to film them.

So, I guess if you want to videotape the police, you'd better declare yourself an independent journalist and hope the judge values our freedom of the press?

This is both shocking & amazing on so many levels. I can think of several ways to look at this that make it hilariously backwards. The cops are on duty, their income is supplied by individuals like this man. As far as I'm aware, employers are allowed to videotape their employers.

I've met good policemen and I've met pigs. These instances sound like a pig on a power trip. Illegal wiretapping, yeah right! It has a sound function so he's wiretapping? Everything just sounds so ridiculous. If it happens in public, it's public domain. This is just obvious abuse of those they are supposed to protect.

Re:What a Power Trip! (5, Informative)

macboygrey (828059) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484559)

It is *NOT* illegal to film the police. The organization CopWatch is based on that freedom. In fact, it is legal to film your public officials at any time. (Well, maybe not in the bathroom). When a public citizen on public land is told to turn off her or his camera, it is called cohesion, and is illegal.

Video of my friend being coerced here: http://youtube.com/watch?v=DMDW4Fszj2U [youtube.com]
Also, a follow up here: http://youtube.com/watch?v=QWmLufB6Bsw [youtube.com]

Re:What a Power Trip! (-1, Flamebait)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484651)

While I'm generally totally in favor of sticking it to the police, editing your clips pretty much removes 100% credibility. For all we know the dyed-hair camera boy was swearing at them and and wearing a t-shirt that says allah hates niggers. Tell your buddy he'll get a lot more sympathy if he releases the entire tape, unedited with unobscured audio.

Re:What a Power Trip! (5, Insightful)

AlterTick (665659) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484829)

While I'm generally totally in favor of sticking it to the police, editing your clips pretty much removes 100% credibility. For all we know the dyed-hair camera boy was swearing at them and and wearing a t-shirt that says allah hates niggers. Tell your buddy he'll get a lot more sympathy if he releases the entire tape, unedited with unobscured audio.
Someone should mod you "-1, idiot talking out of his ass". It doesn't sound like you even watched the videos. The first video isn't "edited" beyond the minor addition of footage, in the form of black screens with white text explaining the context of the video. The second is a news report from a local station, with clips from the first and an interview with the cameraman. If you had watched it, you might've noticed he didn't have dyed hair, nor an "allah hates niggers" T-shirt; not that having either of those, or even swearing at police, is legal justification for a cop threatening to break someone's camera.

Re:What a Power Trip! (0, Offtopic)

norkakn (102380) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484703)

That's pretty damn cool.

Re:What a Power Trip! (5, Insightful)

eriklou (1027240) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484779)

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them. -- Thomas Jefferson

Re:What a Power Trip! (3, Insightful)

FraterNLST (922749) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484931)

We have to remember that this is only happening for one reason - we let it happen. We should be well passed surprise by now when people in power abuse that power - a proportion of people in power ALWAYS abuse their power, and have been doing so since first someone said "now take a look at this pointy stick I have." Take a look around at the current political and legislative landscape of the world we all live in and be afraid. The patriot act was just the tip of the iceburg, one step in a growing trend. Laws equally heinous to citizen's rights have been passed all over the world, including, i'm sorry to say, my own home Australia. There was a small outcry when sedition laws were passed here and our government given permissions to arrest us, hold us in secret and even prevent it from being reported in the press on threat of serious jail time - but nobody did anything, and it was all done so quietly that 90% of the country barely even noticed. None of us are free, outrage is redundant, the first world looks more and more like a prison camp every day. Fear is the great controller and the media has done a fantastic job in scaring the masses with ghosts and boogey-men.

Where have I seen laws like this before? (2, Insightful)

sherwood411 (1114737) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484937)

Oh, yeah, in dictatorships & communist countries that squash common freedoms in the name of..... (Fill in blank)

What are you talking about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19484939)

I've met good policemen and I've met pigs.

I have never ever, ever met a good policeperson. Not even mediocre. 90% of America also shares this sentiment. (the other 10% being the most wealthy)

Re:What a Power Trip! (1, Funny)

aztektum (170569) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484953)

Arrested for illegal wiretapping. Sounds like a case of the officer going with what he knows. Shady fuck.

I love laws like this... (4, Funny)

Derekloffin (741455) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484497)

Nothing better than a law which let's a public entity have legal protection from public oversight.

Re:I love laws like this... (2, Funny)

pizpot (622748) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484619)

Take your pick, 50 good countries or one big united mess.

Re:I love laws like this... (0, Troll)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484675)

I'm surprised no one has said it yet: If you film the police, you are probably a terrorist.

Re:I love laws like this... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19484711)

Public oversight? What are you, some kind of freedom-loving hippie?

We citizens of the Homeland are in constant danger. Terrorists brazenly roam the countryside, nuking preschools when we least expect it.

How do you expect the police to do their job when they are constantly hogtied with red tape, unable to perform a little simple extrajudicial torture without spending huge amounts of time and money to ship the detainee overseas?

The answer: they cannot.

We should cheer when a terrorist-sympathizer photographer is arrested. That's one less evildoer threatening our benevolent overseers' iron hand, and one less distraction from our nation's righteous course.

Re:I love laws like this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19484957)

Someone should mod you up +5 insightful. Truer words have never been spoken before here. Our society is much too lenient on those evildoers and their supporters. A little torture now and then isn't so bad.

I hate these stinking lefty hippies just as much as you.

Welcome to the New America... (1, Offtopic)

apachetoolbox (456499) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484505)

... please leave your rights and any expectation of privacy on the table to your right and pickup your federal ID on the left. Then continue down the hall for mandatory finger print and DNA recording for your protection.

This isn't federal (4, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484607)

This is state. Recording laws vary state to state and in PA, it's a state where all participants in a conversation must be informed they are being recorded (for audio at least). There are plenty of states this is not the case for. This all predates 9/11, Bush, and whatever other big brother federal things you are thinking of by quite some time.

Re:Welcome to the New America... (1)

IP_Troll (1097511) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484637)

The law seems to create the ultimate privacy because it is so vauge that even using your ears could be considered "intentionally intercepting" another person's conversation. Remember it applies to everyone not just cops, and everyone is liable for this law INCLUDING cops. (Cops aren't above the law, they are charged with DUI if they are driving drunk on duty, or assault if they ruff somebody up) This law is so vauge it could be unconstitutional because it does not specify how exactly you can break it.

This has happened before in other states, the charge gets quitely dropped once the defendant gets an attorney. The defendant's attorney will remind the assistant DA how much hell he will catch from his political party if the defendant is successful in getting the law over turned and the bad law will remain on the books.

Re:Welcome to the New America... (1)

I'll Provide The War (1045190) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484685)

18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. Sec. 5704(4) was passed in 1983.

In Pennsylvania it has been a felony to make a recording without consent of both parties since then.

This has nothing to do with halliburtonchimpbushitler or any other neo-fascist cause célèbre.

Kind of like another case (5, Informative)

Exstatica (769958) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484507)

Its almost the same situation with guy who got permission from a land owner to sit on the property and video tape police. The judge considered it unlawful seizer, and he won the case. Mainly because video taping is a legitimate way of gathering evidence. The full case is at http://www.paed.uscourts.gov/documents/opinions/05 D0847P.pdf [uscourts.gov] That case was federal, I have no idea about state laws but in theory it could be appealed and possibly get the federal court involved.

If they have nothing to hide .... (3, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484509)

What's wrong with filming the cops?

Isn't that the only REAL way to watch the watchmen?

Re:If they have nothing to hide .... (5, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484549)

What's wrong with filming the cops?
I think either FOX owns the patent on videotaping the police or the RIAA owns a copyright on videos of 'the Police'.

Re:If they have nothing to hide .... (2, Insightful)

The Only Druid (587299) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484667)

Of course this argument works both ways.

I do not believe it is illegal to videotape police from a lawful position, while the police are engaged in police activity (if you're in an unlawful position - e.g. committing a crime - your rights are always different to some degree). It remains to be seen whether the courts agree with me.

However, if your argument is going to be "if they've got nothing to hide, they shouldn't mind", then you cannot complain when the police themselves turn that argument around on you. After all, if you've got nothing to hide, why should you mind them videotaping you whenever you're acting as a public citizen (i.e. whenever you're in the public space, or rather whenever you're not in private space)?

This is a serious question, and it's related to the Google Street View issue: our laws about privacy (and related issues) in the public space are based on old paradigms, and it is unclear whether we need to shift paradigms with the advent of sufficiently new technology.

If the cops are allowed to record all the activities that people engage in whilst in the public space, then how can we complain when they extrapolate our private activities from that data? (e.g. if they know where physically drive, then they know where you drove to, how long you stayed there, etc.).

Similarly, how much data are we allowed to collect on police? There are websites that exist today solely to encourage criminals to kill police informants and undercover cops. If it's legal to record their actions (especially in the public space), then we must find some other way to prevent these people from getting our cops/informants killed, right?

Re:If they have nothing to hide .... (1, Insightful)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484797)

when the police themselves turn that argument around on you.

I'm sorry, but you have it backwards, it was the police and government that came up with it first, time and time again.

And time and time again, when it's turned against them, they whine and cry. Whether it's mayors having an apoplectic fit when people go through their "public" trash [wweek.com] or cops throwing the book at people for filming them in public where they have "no reasonable expectation of privacy", the government takes the first step in taking your privacy from you, and when people turn that loss against the government, the reaction exposes the clearly hypocritical acts of those in charge.

Re:If they have nothing to hide .... (1)

The Only Druid (587299) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484859)

It doesn't matter who uses the technique first: if you acknowledge it as valid against them, then it's valid against you. If they acknowledge it's valid against you, then it's valid against them. Either both you and they get it, or neither of you do.

Frankly, I think both options are unpleasant, for different reasons.

They're ALREADY doing that. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484861)

However, if your argument is going to be "if they've got nothing to hide, they shouldn't mind", then you cannot complain when the police themselves turn that argument around on you.
:)
What was that about warrantless wiretaps?

There's a bit of a difference between a citizen NOT empowered to drag anyone off to jail for 24 hours and a cop. It's about the potential for abuse of authority.

Re:If they have nothing to hide .... (4, Insightful)

AlterTick (665659) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484901)

if your argument is going to be "if they've got nothing to hide, they shouldn't mind", then you cannot complain when the police themselves turn that argument around on you.
Wrong. We are not public employees. We are not granted special powers above those of ordinary citizens like they are. They have a gun, a baton, and the power of the state behind them. This alone is justification for watching them. As private citizens, the state has no right to arbitrarily watch us. The state (through its agents) must justify its surveillance.

Re:If they have nothing to hide .... (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484965)

I welcome police to videotape me while I am working on taxpayer's dime and not taking part in an authorized undercover operation.

Who Guards The Guardians (4, Informative)

gbulmash (688770) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484513)

It's an old saw of photography that in a place where a celebrity does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy, you can take their photo without permission. You can even publish it. When I was handling photos for a major movie site, I had to remind agents and managers of this when they'd try to bluster about how neither they nor their client authorized us to run a photo they didn't like from a premiere or party. We didn't need their authorization.

Now take something that is within the public interest, recording a police officer in the performance of his/her duties in a public place. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? If there isn't an exception to the wiretapping laws when a citizen records the police, but there is an exception when the police record citizens, there is something seriously wrong with that law. This case bears watching.

- Greg

P.S.: And to have some stereotypical /. post elements:

In Soviet Russia, the police record *you*.

1: Record Police Officer
2: Get Arrested For Felony
3: ???
4: Profit!!

I, for one, welcome our new wiretapping overlords.

Re:Who Guards The Guardians (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484653)

A boss can record people who work for them in the workplace.

It follows that the people (who the police protect and serve) can record police (who often forget who they ultimately work for) in their workplace (the public).

Re:Who Guards The Guardians (2, Insightful)

The Only Druid (587299) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484699)

Can we stop making this idiotic assertion? Public servants are not employees of each citizen. How can you tell? Because you cannot fire them. They work for you, in the sense that they work for your benefit, but they do not work for you in the sense that they are in your employ.

Why not? (4, Insightful)

Red Leader. (12916) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484521)

I guess my question is "Why SHOULDN'T you be able to videotape police officers doing their job?". Seriously.

Re:Why not? (1)

Workaphobia (931620) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484693)

This is a stupid rhetorical point that needs to be made: Would you like it if anyone could video tape you doing your job? I don't see why the fact that they're public servants alone would strip them of that protection. There would have to be an explicit exception in the law allotting the public the privilege of overseeing them.

Re:Why not? (0, Flamebait)

mr_stinky_britches (926212) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484789)

No, you need to check your POV on this.

The pigs are funded by MY and all other tax-paying Americans taxes.

Again, why shouldn't we be able to monitor/record their performance? Especially from a public venue. Ah, that's right..we are FREE to do this!

Re:Why not? (2, Informative)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484853)

"Would you like it if anyone could video tape you doing your job?"

Who cares? Unless I do something really dumb/mean/evil/stupid no one's going to watch it...I don't see why this would be an issue.

Also most jobs that citizens have take place in private property, where videotaping can be banned no matter the state. If I go outside to use my laptop to program I don't see why anyone should be banned from taping me, they can bore themselves if they want.

This happened on public property and involved someone funded by public taxation, why should we treat it the same way we would an event on private property involving someone funded by private funds?

Re:Why not? (2, Funny)

zotz (3951) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484879)

Ah, google? Aren't they taking pictures of people's cats in their windows?

The news, don't they film crowds in public places?

Traffic Cams?

Is it only the audio part that is supposed to be illegal?

Mute your video camera I guess.

all the best,

drew

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19484915)

People CAN vidoe tape you doing your job. People who work in retail are videotaped all the time while they are doing their job.

Re:Why not? (1)

The Only Druid (587299) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484735)

I discuss this in a separate post in this thread (and won't retread it all here), but remember: as the technology to record video, to store that video, and more importantly to process that video to extract data (e.g. a cop's daily path, the informers he speaks with, etc.) gets more powerful, this question gets very difficult.

The government has a valid interest in preserving its ability to serve us, the populace. It may be - I'm not saying it IS - true that the government (state and federal) can legitimately prevent us from recording data (in this case, it's ONLY the audio actually) in the public space.

We can't just dismiss the possibility out of hand. We have to present considered, well-reasoned stances.

Couple Who Catch Cop Speeding Could Face Charges (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19484529)

Posted by ScuttleMonkey on Mon Feb 19, '07 04:13 PM
from the turnabout-isn't-fair-play dept.

a_nonamiss writes "A Georgia couple, apparently tired of people speeding past their house, installed a camera and radar gun on their property. After it was installed, they caught a police office going 17MPH over the posted limit. They brought this to the attention of the local police department, and are now being forced to appear in front of a judge to answer to charges of stalking."

except (1)

Ep0xi (1093943) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484531)

when they videotape themselves raping a woman hancuffed to the floor to multiply extremism around the world.. in that case is just suicide i think...

I could see.. (1)

eriklou (1027240) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484533)

I could see if this was like in a private building or someones personal area, but if your out in the open then anyone can hear you anyway. If the police have an exemption then the public should have it as well.

Can I use the same argument (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19484537)

for red light cameras? SInce I drive for a living, it is recording me
during my duties without a wiretap warrant.

Fine. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19484553)

I expect any cases based upon surveillance camera footage to be dismissed on the technicality that no warrant was obtained.

If a cop has to give permission to be filmed then a member of the public should have to give specific, written consent to be filmed by any method of surveillance before that footage can be used as evidence against him in a court of law or elsewhere.

It's only fair, right?

"without their consent" (2, Interesting)

H0NGK0NGPH00EY (210370) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484555)

I saw this on BoingBoing yesterday, and one part didn't make any sense to me. According to the article:

Kelly is charged under a state law that bars the intentional interception or recording of anyone's oral conversation without their consent.
Seems like an overly broad law, but whatever. However, it should be applied equally to everyone, don't you think? Did the officer have the consent of the vehicle driver for the dashboard camera in the police cruiser?

Note it doesn't say "without notification," it says "without consent." Important difference.

Re:"without their consent" (1)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484745)

The very next sentence after the one you quoted is "An exception to the wiretapping law allows police to film people during traffic stops." So "should" doesn't enter into it, it isn't equally applied, because there is an exception made; Their wiretapping laws only apply to people who are not police.

Video maybe not (2, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484557)

But in PA audio recording probably is. PA is a two party state. What that means is that all parties involved in a conversation must be aware it is being recorded for that to be legal. There are a number of states like this, and that's why there's the "this call may be monitored or recorded" crap on 800 numbers and such. They don't really care if you know, except that they are required to say so in some states.

Other states, like AZ, are one party states. This means that only a single person in a conversation needs to be aware it is being recorded for it to be legal. So while you can't, say, tap your girlfriend's phone (because you aren't a party in those conversations) you can tap your own phone, or walk around with a recorder in your pocket and it is legal.

So, if shit like this pisses you off, and it should, check and see if you are a two party state. If so, you should be getting on your state legislature about changing that.

Re:Video maybe not (1)

BlueMikey (1112869) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484647)

But that involves private property. The police officer is a public official and the recording took place on public land. Does that mean that I couldn't take my camera to the park to film a picnic family reunion because there might be other people at the park and their audio might be picked up by my recorder? This law seems so broad that I'm surprised it holds up.

Re:Video maybe not (1)

MoneyT (548795) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484933)

The officer may be a public official, but the person he's arresting isn't. Not saying it's right, but just because the officer is a public official doesn't mean the law just goes away.

Re:Video maybe not (2, Interesting)

seifried (12921) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484673)

Interesting, Canada as a whole (as I understand it) is a one party consent state. However if a police office and a person are in the middle of something, and I am simply a bystander can I be considered to be part of the conversation so to speak? Is asking "Hey officer, what's going on?" and having him reply sufficient? Or can I simply mute the audio on my video camera and capture picture only, thus avoiding the whole wiretapping issue? Would there be a difference between a "normal" microphone and some amped up monster with a parabolic capture dish that can make out a conversation at 200 feet? Interesting opportunities to create case law.

Something I don't get... (1)

Hamster Lover (558288) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484709)

Does the law require consent or awareness? There is a big difference between the two. If the law requires consent and you call a toll free number from or in Pennsylvania, does that mean you can tell the operator then that you don't consent to the call being recorded? If the law stipulates that parties must simply be made aware of the recording, then Kelly's mistake was surreptitiously recording the officer.

Another consideration is that a roadside does not constitute a public place, and by my interpretation of the law that is an essential element to the wiretapping offense. Namely, that an offense only occurs when there is an expectation of privacy. A roadside police stop doesn't conform to those requirements, in my opinion.

Re:Video maybe not (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484895)

Wouldn't being in public be defacto consent?
Who can honestly say they went out in public and expected to be private?

Re:Video maybe not (1)

zotz (3951) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484917)

"But in PA audio recording probably is. PA is a two party state. What that means is that all parties involved in a conversation must be aware it is being recorded for that to be legal."

Didn't the story say without consent, not without awareness? Can you speak to this further?

all the best,

drew

Re:Video maybe not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19484963)

Actually the federal law (I think it's under USC 1030) is that one party must be ok with it being recorded.
State laws have amended this to make it that both parties must agree.

I actually got in a fight with my sister (hey we're both grown up now, but we can still argue!). I live in Indiana, she was in Illinois at the time. Turns out, Indiana has the one party, Illinois has the two party clause -- we both decided to call a tie as to "who was right"

This guy was neither party, but how was he tapping any wires to begin with? Also what is done in public has no right to privacy? I think the jury needs to know about nullification...

Wiretapping in public place ? (1)

jonfr (888673) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484569)

How can it be wiretapping when the event happens in public place ? Wiretapping means listening into private conversations and some secret stuff. Not recording the cops abusing it's power in a public place.

American laws are scary. I say that as a foreigner and a person how lives outside the U.S.

Pigs. (3, Insightful)

morari (1080535) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484577)

If they were here to "serve and protect" they wouldn't be harassing citizens in petty traffic stops to begin with.

Not Likely (1)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484581)

This is more likely to get the law thrown out then get this guy put in prison. It is unreasonably broad for this officer to be applying this law in this way.

It certainly shouldn't be... (4, Insightful)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484587)

And what's with this wiretapping nonsense? That doesn't even make sense, how do you wiretap the air? Last I checked it wasn't a series of wires...

"Kelly is charged under a state law that bars the intentional interception or recording of anyone's oral conversation without their consent."

Okay...what? Why is this illegal? I mean, I can see some potential for abuse, recording someone saying something and using it to incriminate them etc. But seriously, if you say it aloud to someone they can report that you say it in court (presumably without hearsay as, as far as I know, that only applies to stating facts you heard from someone else, not what someone else said. As in I can say "Billy said..." in court but not "I know that because Billy said so")

I mean, I'm sure this law is great for privacy freaks, but it just seems off. If you're going to say something to me why don't I have the right to record it? My brain's already doing that, what's wrong with having a more accurate representation of it? You'd prefer I improperly remember you saying "I'm gonna blow them up!" and not have the recording that actually says "He's gonna blow them up?" I wouldn't mind people recording my conversations, why would you ever say anything you wouldn't want recorded to another human being with a memory?

Just seems like an off law to me. The case itself, not so much. If it's illegal there, no matter how off that law may be, then he should be arrested. However I'd hope he could get off with only a fine due to the extreme obscurity and horrible naming policy (really, they're supposed to know that videotaping someone talking is wiretapping?).

Re:It certainly shouldn't be... (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484641)

"Kelly is charged under a state law that bars the intentional interception or recording of anyone's oral conversation without their consent."

Okay...what? Why is this illegal? I mean, I can see some potential for abuse,


Oh, this is just a case of a law that was ORIGINALLY designed to protect the PEOPLE from the GOVERNMENT being turned around and used against the people. Now, was it four legs good, two legs baaaad, or four legs good, two legs beeeeter... can't remember anymore.

Re:It certainly shouldn't be... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484869)

"Last I checked it wasn't a series of wires..."

Either is WiFi.

But if it's on public... (1)

semifamous (231316) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484591)

If this is taking place on a public street, then the wiretapping laws don't apply, just like the people's rights don't apply to "illegal search and seizure" when you're growing marijuana in your front yard in plain sight.

Right?

Re:But if it's on public... (1)

Servo (9177) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484695)

Uh, you're not too bright are you?

Re:But if it's on public... (1)

semifamous (231316) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484739)

Bad/wrong analogy then?

I'm asking if that's right or not.

Re:But if it's on public... (1)

idesofmarch (730937) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484909)

You cannot get to the conclusion you want to get to, because illegal search and seizure has nothing to do with wiretapping laws. There may be a constitutional argument for being able to record someone's voice in a public place, but what you are citing does not get you there. I am not sure you can even make a constitutional argument for being able to record someone's voice in a public place. I agree you should be able to do it, but I do not think the Constitution protects it.

Re:But if it's on public... (1)

The Only Druid (587299) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484825)

The humor is that even your example is wrong, and you ironically used the important term: activities that are in the "plain sight" of an officer while he/she is in a legal physical position are not illegal searches/seizures. It's not that the Constitutional prohibition against illegal search/seizure is suspended in those situations, but rather that it is a LEGAL search/seizure.

Re:But if it's on public... (1)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484873)

Wiretapping is a poor name, it's eavesdropping that the laws are about. Recording or just intercepting audio without the consent of both parties is a felony (in some states you only need permission from one party). Location has nothing to do with the law. It applies if you plant a bug in somebody's office, it applies if you use a long range mic to listen to somebody's conversation in a diner, and depending if the particular state's law only applies to electronic interception and recording, it just might apply if you are walking down the street and overhear somebody's conversation.

And what would you call such a show? (3, Funny)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484595)

<Mr. Announcer Voice> Pigs on taaaaaaape... </Mr. Announcer Voice>

Moddy up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19484727)

Many LOLz

The bad argument... (4, Funny)

Aminion (896851) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484597)

"Hey, if the police have nothing to hide, why do they object to being videotaped?"

Who's watching Big Brother??? (4, Insightful)

hguorbray (967940) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484601)

When those who enforce the law are above it we are on the road to becoming a fascist oligarchy -if we aren't already.

Of course we have an executive branch which has put itself above the law in the name of terrorism and freedumb(sic)....

and a legislature which does not have the will to fix our healthcare crisis because they have their own healthcare system which isolates them from the f'd up system the rest of us are dealing with.....

There must be literally HUNDREDS of cases since Rodney King in which cops (especially LA cops) have been caught doing bad, abusive and unconstitutional things to perps -er citizens.

There should be no right of public officials to privacy while they conduct the tasks that they are allegedly performing on our behalf.

Cameras and things like open government sessions are about the accountability which is becoming rarer in this society.

LET THE SUNSHINE IN (ie. 'sunshine' laws)

I'm just sayin'

Pure bullshit (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19484603)

I'm sorry, but this is pure bullshit, through-and-through. Police officers in America are authorized and equipped to use *lethal* force, and in most courts their word is taken as gospel over a civilian. Due to departmental 'solidarity' successfully prosecuting even the worst cases is incredibly difficult.

If anything, police officers ought to be required by law to wear pickups that record ALL sound and a snapshot every 10 seconds while they are on duty. Ideally, said recordings would also be instantly transmitted to a secured location which nobody in their headquarters has access to for archival purposes.

Re:Pure bullshit (1)

gbulmash (688770) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484669)

"If anything, police officers ought to be required by law to wear pickups that record ALL sound and a snapshot every 10 seconds while they are on duty. Ideally, said recordings would also be instantly transmitted to a secured location which nobody in their headquarters has access to for archival purposes."

So the cops should wear something like an airplane black box? Woo hoo!

Re:Pure bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19484771)

I'm proposing a simple mic and a small X10-type camera. Here's some back of the napkin feasibility:

Audio bandwidth/storage would be the difficult part - USA has roughly 600,000 cops total = ~4.8 million active-duty man hours per day (many probably work longer hours, but many probably spend a significant amount of time behind a desk).

4.8 million man-hours per day * 3600 man-seconds per man-hour = 17,280,000,000 man-seconds per day. Assuming a low 8kbps audio stream, the resulting data comes out to 17.28 TB per day. I can buy 500GB HDD's for $120 on Newegg, so assuming 2-drive redundancy across the board (Would probably require RAID-5 redundancy in reality) that comes out to roughly $8000 in archival costs per day, or $3 million a year to archive all that audio.

$3 million a year is NOTHING.

The bandwidth to the archive would be 4.8 Gb/sec (600MB/sec) so substations for caching would probably be a smart move.

Re:Pure bullshit (1)

IL-CSIXTY4 (801087) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484845)

So the cops should wear something like an airplane black box? Woo hoo!
For better or worse, they're doing a trial of something like that in England: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/shropshire/6709 125.stm [bbc.co.uk]

"The cameras are clearly visible when they are worn and the instant playback facility means that officers can easily see again exactly who did what in public disorder situations, as well as showing the offenders themselves the poor level of their behaviour."

Public locations == not private (for cops either) (1)

Big Jojo (50231) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484605)

This is ludicrous. It's a public location, there is no expectation of privacy.

And that's on top of the assumption of these ... "pigs" is fair, here ... that they should be immune to citizen oversight. There's no way that *SEVEN* *EXTRA* *COPS* were needed to arrest him.

Throwing charges at the wall until it sticks (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484613)

While their wording of the law for felony wiretapping of voice communications probably has flexible spots, I doubt it'll bend that far unless the guy has a really crummy lawyer.

So, the video part, not the audio, is OK? (1)

Requiem Aristos (152789) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484615)

It's pretty clearly noted in the article that only the audio portion of the recording was considered to fall afoul of the law. But, a videotape of a person speaking could be taken to a person who lip-reads to obtain a later transcript of a conversation. (And how admissible might such a transcript be if needed later?)

I'm also curious to know whether the subject, as a passenger in the vehicle, would be considered a party to the conversation (something that some wiretapping statutes take into account).

What ? (4, Insightful)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484625)

Carlisle Police Chief Stephen Margeson said allowing Kelly to plead to a lesser charge might be proper. "I don't think that would cause anyone any heartburn," he said. "I don't believe there was any underlying criminal intent here."


If you don't believe there was criminal intent, why the fuck was he arrested & why should he plead guilty to a lessor charge ?

Sue the fuckers !

Re:What ? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484749)

LOL AMERICAN PROSECUTORS.... where do you find these sweethearts? The guy that wrongly prosecuted the Duke kids. The guy that appealed the court decision to free a 17 year old who has served 2 years of a 10 year sentence for consensual sex with a 15 year old. And now this case - since obviously the cops and the state think they have a case.

Serious reform efforts (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484631)

The police told us that they were going to make sure that there weren't any more cases like Rodney King's, and it looks like they're on their way to delivering on that promise.

Next time, they'll have solid law to prosecute any SOB who films them at work and the recordings (being illegally obtained) won't be usable in court.

No (4, Informative)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484633)

I forget which case it was, I had to do a research project on it about 4 years ago, but it involved wiretapping in public areas. The incident involved wiretapping a payphone booth that was used regularly by the defendent for placing bets on sports events over the phone (both betting on sports and gambling over phone lines were illegal at the time.) The FBI claimed that because the pay phone was in a public area that they were free to tap it because it wasn't considered a private area. The court ruled in favor of the defendent, stating that conversations in this type of pay phone booth, which had a door that closed so nobody outside could hear, was reasonably expected by the publicto be a place where one could hold a conversation in private. The general ruling is that if there is a commonly accepted expectation of privacy, a warrant is required. The incidence for the case here is that the police were out in public on the streets. Nobody can reasonably believe that a conversation in the street is a private event. Therefore, this case should be closed and in favour of Mr. Kelly. Update: The case I referenced in the beginning of this post is Katz v. United States. I found an audio recording of the case 4 years ago that was in mp3 format. It can be found at http://www.oyez.org/oyez/resource/case/198/argumen t.mp3 [oyez.org] , along with the transcript at http://www.oyez.org/oyez/audio/198/argument-ra.smi l [oyez.org]

What is the cops problem? (1)

Robber Baron (112304) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484639)

After all, if they're not doing anything wrong then they've got nothing to hide!
Isn't that how the argument goes?
Sauce for the goose...

That's funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19484663)

I live here in Carlisle PA, and was pulled over for speeding a few weeks ago. AFTER the stop was over, and the officer was about to leave, he informed me that our encounter was recorded on a device on his shirt, as well as from the car.

I was indeed speeding and paid my fine. It just seems like a shady thing to be able to record me and tell me after the fact when this guy is facing charges.

Soviet Amerika.. (1)

k1e0x (1040314) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484683)

Yeah, you can't actually monitor police activies ESPECIALLY if they are doing something wrong. ..and if you TELL someone about it your obstructing justice and harming the nation.

This is an afront to everything a free country is about! They are suposta serve us!

Re:Soviet Amerika.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19484773)

record and upload (using tor) to youtube and similar services. spread the link. done.

Reasonable Expectations (2, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484719)

It boils down to if the person being arrested had a reasonable expectation of privacy. Just because you are 'out in public' doesnt mean you cant expect some level of personal privacy.

Now, the fact that there is a 'state offical' involved too, it makes things much more complex. There is no black and white 'covers all situations' answer here.

Nothing to hide? (4, Insightful)

isotope23 (210590) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484721)

What happened to all that claptrap about if you've got nothing to hide you should'nt mind being taped?
Isn't that the crap the authorities come back with when people complain about CCTV cameras?
I'm guessing the COPS were videotaping the arrest with a car camera, if so, THEY have already CONSENTED
to having their actions recorded while on the job.

They are employees of the public going about public business IN PUBLIC. They damn well better be able to be recorded
or we are in serious trouble.

ACLU (2, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484763)

I bet that ACLU will take this on. It seems like a pretty easy case. Police on the job are NOT private, they are in the public domain. As such, we have the right to video and tape them. Likewise, we have the right to record a politician who is busy making a speech or operating in the public.

Does this apply to ANYONE? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19484791)

What if I videotape my day at Hershey park? Have I just committed a felony in PA because I have recorded what people around me are saying?

Sure, videotaping The Police is illegal (4, Funny)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484815)

Just ask MPAA and RIAA.

Oh, you meant actual cops? Never mind.

How do police justify this? (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484823)

What is wrong with taping the police, when the police are in public? How could this possibly hurt anybody?

There was a case where a student secretly taped a teacher teaching extremist left-wing propaganda. The school said teachers could not be taped because it might be distracting to the other students. WTF?

understandable... (2)

dwater (72834) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484841)

...it's the same in China.

This is absurd !! (1)

ZDRuX (1010435) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484847)

The charge is invalid because it flouts privacy laws. Under the fourth amendment the expectation of privacy is not reasonable at such public places as automobile thoroughfares.

There was a similar case in another state.... (2, Informative)

Big Smirk (692056) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484927)

The result was that it was O.K. to tape record the police during a traffic stop.

The rational was that since the traffic stop happened in public, there was no expectation of privacy.

Basically, you can record anything that happens in public.

Now PA law might be a bit different.

The officer saw the camera (1)

floodle (409717) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484941)

FTFA:

"Police said the officer saw Kelly had a camera in his lap..."

Doesn't that mean the officer knew he was being recorded and therefore the recording wasn't illegal? It seems like it would only be illegal if the officer *didn't* see the camera and somehow found out later that he was being recorded. The law in PA says that all parties of a conversation need to be informed if it is being recorded. The very fact that the officer saw the camera implies that he was aware of the recording.

COPS is filmed on location in Carlisle PA (1)

ShawnH (45698) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484945)

Anyone know if COPS was filmed in PA? Wouldn't this same law apply in reverse, and the cameramen charged with the same felony?

America the Police State (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19484947)

Cops == Morlocks
You == Eloi

Honestly it's more like a veal-thing but you get the point. BTW, did you know there are cops pulling down $200k a year? [bostonherald.com]

Welcome to dinner, we'll be serving you soon.

Camera vs radio scanners (1)

Neferkara (531096) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484951)

I can't see how a recording or photographing a police officer while performing his or her job is considered wiretapping when anybody can listen to and record the police using a radio scanner. Nothing that is being said between a cop and a person he is talking to or his actions with that person are something he should be worried about. By virtue of their job, the opposite should be true. From the article 'Young man, turn off your ... camera,' I notice at the end that the ACLU might get involved and I hope they crush that cop and his department.

I don't get it (1)

snakecoder (235259) | more than 7 years ago | (#19484961)


What about dash cams and microphones on police cars used as evidence?
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