Boston Cops Fight Cellphone Recordings

The notion that cheap, ubiquitous recording devices could potentially level the playing field between citizens and authorities is a powerful one. It is a trend that seems either sparse in reality or at least sparsely covered in the media.

On Boing Boing, Cory shares news of increased arrests of citizens recording law enforces at work. Reading through the Boston.com piece, there is more going on here than at first glance. In the states where police have been arresting citizens for recording them, apparently a two-party law has been in effect. These laws are designed to require consent between two parties when recording a private conversation. The officers have been interpreting the law to mean that their consent is required before they can be recorded.

Not surprisingly, a common sense interpretation is evolving around these laws, one which doesn’t favor the officers. Several courts have weighed in on the distinction between public and private recording.

As Cory notes, no doubt even a strong series of bright line rulings won’t stop the officers from continuing to abuse the law, not necessarily for convictions but just for chilling effect. Hopefully, as long as they do, there will be activists willing to keep pushing back so we can figure out the most appropriate role of technology in balancing power between authorities and the citizens they police.

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