The Government’s War on Cameras (Video)

Via Reason TV:

Who will watch the watchers? In a world of ubiquitous, hand-held digital cameras, that’s not an abstract philosophical question. Police everywhere are cracking down on citizens using cameras to capture breaking news and law enforcement in action.

In 2009, police arrested blogger and freelance photographer Antonio Musumeci on the steps of a New York federal courthouse. His alleged crime? Unauthorized photography on federal property.

Police cuffed and arrested Musumeci, ultimately issuing him a citation. With the help of the New York Civil Liberties Union, he forced a settlement in which the federal government agreed to issue a memo acknowledging that it is totally legal to film or photograph on federal property.

Although the legal right to film on federal property now seems to be firmly established, many other questions about public photography still remain and place journalists and citizens in harm’s way. Can you record a police encounter? Can you film on city or state property? What are a photographer’s rights in so-called public spaces?

These questions will remain unanswered until a case reaches the Supreme Court, says UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh, founder of the popular law blog The Volokh Conspiracy. Until then, it’s up to people to know their rights and test the limits of free speech, even at the risk of harassment and arrest.

Who will watch the watchers? All of us, it turns out, but only if we’re willing to fight for our rights.

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  • Grooveboss

    two words : hidden cameras 

  • Grooveboss

    two words : hidden cameras 

    • smoodogg

      Why should. They be hidden? I pay my taxes which pays for the.federal system. If I want to take a pic of something that I helped build, then I dang well will take a picture. It has gotten so bad that last week while trying to work at the federal building in Greensboro, I was detained for over an hour because I refused to givethem my smartphone. When I asked to see any regulation preventing me from having a phone with a camera, which they could not produce, I was allowed to proceed with my service call, camera in hand.

    • GoodDoktorBad

      I get what you’re saying but thats a bad idea. In theory, the filming of cop’s interactions with citizens should protect both parties if either or both breaks the law. The cops don’t like it because they often are not fully aware of the law as its written. This makes them look stupid which of course can’t be tolerated.
      Authority can never be allowed to look foolish, even if it means cracking your head open.

      Cameras mounted in your car would be a pretty good idea. I would tend to inform the cop that he is being filmed to protect the letter of the law (so he better behave properly). Only criminals need hide their faces and deeds- cop or no cop. 
      TURN THE TABLES ON THEM, BUT BE POLITE AND LAWFUL.

  • Anonymous

    Government oversight is the foundation stone of American democracy. The founding fathers knew this. We have to make sure to spend every effort to keep our right to watch what the government is doing, otherwise they’ll run completely amok (at least even more so than they already do).

  • SF2K01

    Government oversight is the foundation stone of American democracy. The founding fathers knew this. We have to make sure to spend every effort to keep our right to watch what the government is doing, otherwise they’ll run completely amok (at least even more so than they already do).

  • Anonymous

    The easy challenge to wire tapping is, any interaction between a police officer on duty and a member of the public is not a private interaction but a public interaction, this is evidenced by the police use of dash cameras which are used without the consent of the public.
    The police are only entitled to privacy in private interactions and communications not in public ones where the are carrying out that role on behalf of the public, with allowances under law provided by law as a public act.
    At any time a police officers acts outside of the law, all of those acts are now subject to the law and no longer protected including assault, illegal detention, kidnapping, theft and infringement of civil rights.
    Also contrary to claims by police officers, they are all bound by minimum force laws, they are only allowed to use the minimum force necessary and any use of force beyond that is illegal.

  • rtb61

    The easy challenge to wire tapping is, any interaction between a police officer on duty and a member of the public is not a private interaction but a public interaction, this is evidenced by the police use of dash cameras which are used without the consent of the public.
    The police are only entitled to privacy in private interactions and communications not in public ones where the are carrying out that role on behalf of the public, with allowances under law provided by law as a public act.
    At any time a police officers acts outside of the law, all of those acts are now subject to the law and no longer protected including assault, illegal detention, kidnapping, theft and infringement of civil rights.
    Also contrary to claims by police officers, they are all bound by minimum force laws, they are only allowed to use the minimum force necessary and any use of force beyond that is illegal.

  • smoodogg

    Why should. They be hidden? I pay my taxes which pays for the.federal system. If I want to take a pic of something that I helped build, then I dang well will take a picture. It has gotten so bad that last week while trying to work at the federal building in Greensboro, I was detained for over an hour because I refused to givethem my smartphone. When I asked to see any regulation preventing me from having a phone with a camera, which they could not produce, I was allowed to proceed with my service call, camera in hand.

  • Simiantongue

    If they’re not doing anything wrong then they shouldn’t have a problem with being filmed. But, we all realize there is a problem with policing these days don’t we? Something not quite right. Is it because a certain type of, not too stable personality is attracted to that type of job? Or is the problem more systemic? People with higher levels of megalomania, narcissism, superiority complexes, delusions of grandeur, egotism, aggression, sadism, and well, we’ll just say that people with more than the average amount of many undesirable pathological traits are actively sought for recruitment. Not that ALL police have a higher than normal amount of such traits, but more often than not.

    What I’ve often found, I have several people in my family and a few life long friends who are in law enforcement, is that these traits are already there and their career choice has intensified them. Is that true for most I’m wondering?

  • Simiantongue

    If they’re not doing anything wrong then they shouldn’t have a problem with being filmed. But, we all realize there is a problem with policing these days don’t we? Something not quite right. Is it because a certain type of, not too stable personality is attracted to that type of job? Or is the problem more systemic? People with higher levels of megalomania, narcissism, superiority complexes, delusions of grandeur, egotism, aggression, sadism, and well, we’ll just say that people with more than the average amount of many undesirable pathological traits are actively sought for recruitment. Not that ALL police have a higher than normal amount of such traits, but more often than not.

    What I’ve often found, I have several people in my family and a few life long friends who are in law enforcement, is that these traits are already there and their career choice has intensified them. Is that true for most I’m wondering?

  • Anonymous

    I get what you’re saying but thats a bad idea. In theory, the filming of cop’s interactions with citizens should protect both parties if either or both breaks the law. The cops don’t like it because they often are not fully aware of the law as its written. This makes them look stupid which of course can’t be tolerated.
    Authority can never be allowed to look foolish, even if it means cracking your head open.

    Cameras mounted in your car would be a pretty good idea. I would tend to inform the cop that he is being filmed to protect the letter of the law (so he better behave properly). Only criminals need hide their faces and deeds- cop or no cop. 
    TURN THE TABLES ON THEM, BUT BE POLITE AND LAWFUL.