12 June 2007

Protecting the Privacy of Public Officials or the Private Citizen?

Watching The Detectives ... Can Land You In Jail

State legislatures can amend eavesdropping statutes and wiretapping laws to specify that they do not apply to those bearing police credentials and acting in an official capacity. Accepting those credentials should constitute implied consent to having one's official actions recorded at any time.
Video recording leads to felony charge (June 11, 2007)

Cell Phone Picture Called Obstruction Of Justice (July 25, 2006) and Photograph the Police, Get Arrested (July 30, 2006)

State trooper charged with illegal recording (full text, April 12, 2006)

In summary, Pennsylvania's Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act is all about privacy -- the expectation of privacy we have in our communications. However, it recognizes law enforcement's periodic need to intercept communications to obtain critical evidence in criminal investigations to protect the public. In that regard, the Act strikes a balance by imposing certain requirements on law enforcement via the prior review by a prosecutor and/or judge as explained above. In protecting privacy, the constraints of the Act apply to everyone, law enforcement and private citizens alike.
Wiretapping And Electronic Surveillance Statute

(h/t: Insty)

UPDATE: Wiretap charge dropped in police video case
"When police are audio- and video-recording traffic stops with notice to the subjects, similar actions by citizens, even if done in secret, will not result in criminal charges," Freed said yesterday. "I intend to communicate this decision to all police agencies within the county so that officers on the street are better-prepared to handle a similar situation should it arise again."
Kelly was arrested under a Pennsylvania law that bars the audio recording of anyone's conversation without consent. Taking pictures or filming without sound in public settings is not illegal.
The law itself might need to be revised, Freed said.

"It is not the most clear statute that we have on the books," he said. "It could need a look, based on how technology has advanced since it was written."

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