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» The Ornery American Forum » General Comments » Police fight cellphone recordings

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Author Topic: Police fight cellphone recordings
philnotfil
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Hopefully the courts will get this straightened out quickly. The line between harassing the police as they do their job and recording the actions of public figures in public is a little indistinct, but not so blurry that the police can arrest people for videotaping them in public.

quote:
Simon Glik, a lawyer, was walking down Tremont Street in Boston when he saw three police officers struggling to extract a plastic bag from a teenager’s mouth. Thinking their force seemed excessive for a drug arrest, Glik pulled out his cellphone and began recording.

Within minutes, Glik said, he was in handcuffs.

“One of the officers asked me whether my phone had audio recording capabilities,’’ Glik, 33, said recently of the incident, which took place in October 2007. Glik acknowledged that it did, and then, he said, “my phone was seized, and I was arrested.’’

The charge? Illegal electronic surveillance.

quote:
Jon Surmacz, 34, experienced a similar situation. Thinking that Boston police officers were unnecessarily rough while breaking up a holiday party in Brighton he was attending in December 2008, he took out his cellphone and began recording.

Police confronted Surmacz, a webmaster at Boston University. He was arrested and, like Glik, charged with illegal surveillance.


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tonylovern
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were there convictions in these cases? does maryland have some wierd anti paparazzi law? is this just another example of police abusing authority?

sounds like more fuel for the revolution.

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JWatts
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Many states have, IMHO, misguided electronic recording laws, which require consent from both parties when a recording takes place.

While I think there should be privacy laws, I don't think their should be much restrictions against public activities. I particularly think this should apply to law enforcement.

This incident is way to close to a fascist state for my liking.

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scifibum
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Apparently Massachusetts has a law that requires "two way" consent for recording a conversation. This makes sense as a standard for two way telephone conversations. Apparently, sometimes, the police there want this to extend to recording activities taking place in public where any number of people can be part of an interaction or witnessing it. It makes no sense to me, but convictions have been upheld when the camera or microphone is hidden, making it a 'secret' recording.

I think the Mass. legislature really ought to revisit this one. It makes no sense to apply the standard the way the police applied it to Surmacz and Glik. (This is pretty much the view of the legal system there as well, since the charges against them are dropped.) But going further, it doesn't make sense even if someone is surreptitiously making a recording of events happening in a public place. There's no expectation of privacy.

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whitefire
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Shouldn't there be a "reasonable expectation of privacy" thing here? IE. if you're at Mcdonalds talking you might expect someone would overhear. But if you're at home talking to a friend you do have some expectation of privacy.
So if that friend has a recorder in his pocket and records a confidential conversation at home he has an expectation of privacy, but if you're on the street you should expect someone could have a camera or mic pointed in your direction.

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TommySama
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If you are a police officer beating on a young woman in public, or using excessive force on college students at a party, should you have a reasonable expectation of privacy?
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Pete at Home
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Excessive force is such a funny term when it's used when no force at all was justified. When a cop rapes someone, is that called excessive flirting?
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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
Excessive force is such a funny term when it's used when no force at all was justified. When a cop rapes someone, is that called excessive flirting?

*grin* I'm trying to think of a closer analogy, since force:excessive force :: flirting:rape doesn't really work.

If a police officer plants marijuana on a suspect, is that called excessive malfeasance?

hmm, not quite what I want. I want something that would be appropriate at some times but not others. I give up.

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TommySama
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lol

I'm sure its a terrifying for police - to live in an age where videos and recordings can so easily stand up to their lies in court [Frown]

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cherrypoptart
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> scifibum

> hmm, not quite what I want. I want something that would be appropriate at some times but not others. I give up.

How about a cop screaming profanity at a suspect to get something out of them such as a confession or information?

It might be okay if the person is really guilty. Then again, maybe it's not.

But if it's just some civilian walking down the street, yelling profanity at people is probably against the law, especially when you get up in their face about it. Maybe there is governmental immunity. Maybe not. But it's probably not something most cops want their family and friends to see about them posted up on You Tube.

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Pete at Home
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Ah. Here's the context. Long time ago, cops broke up a BYU ward party, because there was a new music out law, and it was 10 minutes past the deadline. Well, Starsky & Hutch were feeling a little pushy, decided to grab some kid at random (he wasn't even facing the cops) and beat him up. I called their chief and reported the battery. After I shot down his initial denials (by putting a series of 10 eyewitnesses on the phone one after another to confirm what had happened) he informed me that even though what I said appeared to be true, that a cop wasn't capable of battery, since they were authorized to use force. That's when I coined the above -- "if they'd raped a girl, would you call it excessive flirting?"

Should have known then I was going to be a defense attorney. [Big Grin]

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RickyB
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F*** the po-lice and yeah I said it with authority.
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bringer
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Maybe we should police ourselves.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
While I think there should be privacy laws, I don't think their should be much restrictions against public activities. I particularly think this should apply to law enforcement.



Law enforcement or any other public official, really. If you serve the public, it can monitor your job performance any time it feels like.

quote:
This incident is way to close to a fascist state for my liking.
Definitely- the worst about it is, though, that law enforcement has been able to get away with such for a long time. That's part of why we need to get good, solid protection for people who record such; the advent of pervasive access to recording equipment is probably one of the best innovations that has ever come about as far as protecting ourselves from such abuse.
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philnotfil
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I thought I had included the link, but there is clearly no link in that first post.

boston.com

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cherrypoptart
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So would it be okay to follow a postal worker around recording their activities? Delivering the mail, putting it in the wrong box or at the wrong house, taking their lunch break?

How about regular citizens? People worry too much about the police. Maybe some of these malcontents should look up convicted rapists, child molestors, car theives and house burglars who are out on parole and put the cameras on them to keep them honest. Get something constructive done for a change. Of course, if they did that they might end up inadvertently filming themselves.

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Hannibal
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I work in a surveillance company so i might contribute something to this.

anyways, legaly speaking, there is a major difference btween mute recording and auido recording.


when you record video, without recording audio it is legal.
when you record audio and video without asking permissions its illegal.

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asmalls4
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How does that factor into the dash board cams that cops have? They record both audio and visual and they don't ask if they can record you. (Not that I am aware of anyways)
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Dave at Work
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There is a good book about subject this called "The Transparent Society" by David Brin.
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bringer
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Wasn't the amatuer video of Rodney King's beating admissable as evidence? Are there new laws now?

How close are we to getting cell phones that stream live to the internet?

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Viking_Longship
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In principal I can understand the justification for the police not wanting to be recorded. It would make them easier targets for retrobution by drug cartels, terrorists, and criminals in general. Having said that I don't think the police have much right to privacy while on the job.
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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by bringer:
Wasn't the amatuer video of Rodney King's beating admissable as evidence? Are there new laws now?

How close are we to getting cell phones that stream live to the internet?

The Massachusetts law under which Glik and Surmacz were charged is from 1968. But that's Massachusetts, and King was in California, so different laws applied. However, I don't know that admissibility is even an issue in the MA cases.

Streaming live video from a phone is already possible. Qik is one such service.

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