Image by pursuethepassion via Flickr
It seems there is a new news story everyday about someone being arrested for the act of recording the activities of the police. Each of the cases have ranged from a suspect himself recording his own arrest to a neighbor within his own house taping a police encounter through the window. In most of these cases the videographer has been arrested and had their camera taken away by the police. Why is this happening?
Citizen watchdog groups claim they have the right to record any activity on any public street and as long as they are not directly interfering with the police are within their rights. Police and prosecutors often contend that recording police without their consent is akin to illegal wiretapping. So who is right?
So far most judges have looked toward history and previous cases and determined that the police have no extra right of protection from being videotaped. They cite facts such as the police themselves regularly have cameras running in their cars to record traffic stops and arrests. Each of these cases has been found in favor of the videographer and against the police.
New laws are being pushed through many states to specifically allow citizens the freedom to record police activity. As the proliferation of digital cameras continue and until each state has its own law or the Supreme Court gets involved, recording the police will be decided on a case by case basis.