Monday, 7 June 2010

You have the right to not prove your statements?

There's been an article making the rounds at various news sources, and I think it's worth linking here: Are Cameras the New Guns? I very strongly encourage you to read it.

The problem is simple. With cameras being everywhere now, it's becoming easier and easier to record people doing things they shouldn't. People catch pickpockets and shame them on YouTube, or record those teens on their lawn to hand over to the police. No one seems to mind those... But the problem arises when people record the police themselves. You see, people have been using videos to show that, well, not all police officers follow the law. Some of them outright lie about how events transpired, and presumably have been doing so for years. But now, people can show this with video. Naturally, Police don't like this. At all. And they're fighting back to make recording their doings a crime.

Police are like everyone else. It's easy to fall into saccharine sophism and talk about how they're doing their patriotic duty, and all that nonsense, but honestly, police officers are like everyone else. There's many good, and many bad individuals. It's irrational to think that the police force is immune to the same mix of competence and incompetence that other places suffer from. No one denies not all shop clerks are helpful, polite, or will give you a fair deal. Why would we insist that all police are any of those things? Humans are inherently a mix of good, bad and ugly.

But. We shouldn't tolerate the ugly.

Alaska needs a law that says that people can be recorded in places where they don't have a reasonable expectation of privacy. In your home, you have an expectation of privacy. At work, too. That's fairly reasonable. But it seems unreasonable that making a recording outside on the road would be illegal. After all, nothing prohibits there being a second person there, who would see the whole event. The officer has no expectation of privacy there. The effect, either in recording or having a third party observer, would be the same.

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