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Technology, Civil Liberties, and Monitoring Authorities

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  • TheCotMan
    replied
    Re: Technology, Civil Liberties, and Monitoring Authorities

    Originally posted by mouseling View Post
    I may be mistaken, we need to have jurist chime in on this, but I believe that it *is* legal to record any conversation in which you take part. This recording can be private, i.e. the other party can be entirely unaware of it. So the ultra paranoid (or the ultra vain) might consider recording everything.

    -mouse
    This is governed by the catch phrase, "one party," or, "two party," state (especially where phones are concerned.)

    In a one-party state, only one person in a conversation needs to know it is being recorded. In a "two party" state, everyone must know.

    Frequently, recording is allowed and legally admissible if the recording can be shown to have taken place where there was, "no expectation to privacy."

    Leave a comment:


  • jur1st
    replied
    Re: Technology, Civil Liberties, and Monitoring Authorities

    Apparently I'm coming at this from a different direction. As the number of public surveillance cameras increases, their location and control stations should be publicly available. If an individual should be detained in connection with a crime that may have been caught production of the footage should be compulsory.

    The same set of procedures should also occur when there is an accusation of excessive force.

    I think that these types of tapes would be much easier to become admitted into evidence than many citizen recordings.

    Leave a comment:


  • mouseling
    replied
    Re: Technology, Civil Liberties, and Monitoring Authorities

    Originally posted by Deviant Ollam View Post
    It seems like

    UPDATE TWO: oh, forgot to mention... i feel that wiretapping laws should have no application at all when it comes to making audio recordings of authorities. as Bruce Schneier pointed out, the power imbalance between citizens and authority figures makes something appropriate in one direction but an abuse of power in the other.
    I may be mistaken, we need to have jurist chime in on this, but I believe that it *is* legal to record any conversation in which you take part. This recording can be private, i.e. the other party can be entirely unaware of it. So the ultra paranoid (or the ultra vain) might consider recording everything.

    -mouse

    Leave a comment:


  • Thorn
    replied
    Re: Technology, Civil Liberties, and Monitoring Authorities

    Originally posted by Deviant Ollam View Post
    Idealy, some situations would be completely monitored, without interruption. I'm never one for unfunded mandates and most small town police departments have enough budgetary issues, but i would love to see a system where all interrogation room happenings are recorded 100% of the time to digital media. The wall could feature a "lawyer switch" prominently in the field of the camera's vision which counsel could activate if they're alone with a client... but otherwise it would be (in my ideal world) an offense with severe penalties if officers stop the cameras or mute the audio at any time during the questioning of a citizen. Just having that video saved somewhere, accessibly via subpeona from defense counsel, would be a Good Thing in a lot of instances.
    As storage and bandwidth increase, I think you'll see this happen. It prevents more problems than it causes, and for the most part increases the conviction rate for the police and prosecution.


    Originally posted by Deviant Ollam View Post
    I wasn't aware that this was as big a problem as that... the off-duty reprecussions, i mean.
    It depends on the group(s), and their agenda.

    Originally posted by Deviant Ollam View Post
    What about a solution like this, then... randomly-assigned numbers get generated for each officer on duty during large-scale policing events. These random numbers, prominently displayed on their exterior, could be used to directly tie any anonymous person in a tape to a real life individual if a line is crossed, but only after charges are officially filed and found to have merit by a judge, etc.
    A system like that could be workable.

    Originally posted by Deviant Ollam View Post
    yeap. i can see the trouble there. i still think that any authority figure who intentionally destroys the gear or confiscates the film from a person who is recording them needs to demonstrate strong reason for doing so or face disciplinary consequences.
    Sometimes events get out of hand, the cops do lose their tempers like anyone else, and punitive destruction happens. No one is going to condone that type of action. On the other hand, if someone provoke the cops, they can't be entirely surprised if one loses his temper.

    Leave a comment:


  • Deviant Ollam
    replied
    Re: Technology, Civil Liberties, and Monitoring Authorities

    Originally posted by Thorn View Post
    Recordings, unless reviewed in the raw format rarely, if ever, show the whole story.
    true. i was referring merely to the fact that the segment of incident being documented can then later never really be deined. (i.e. - renderman's example of the actual words a person used later being denied or lied about)

    Idealy, some situations would be completely monitored, without interruption. I'm never one for unfunded mandates and most small town police departments have enough budgetary issues, but i would love to see a system where all interrogation room happenings are recorded 100% of the time to digital media. The wall could feature a "lawyer switch" prominently in the field of the camera's vision which counsel could activate if they're alone with a client... but otherwise it would be (in my ideal world) an offense with severe penalties if officers stop the cameras or mute the audio at any time during the questioning of a citizen. Just having that video saved somewhere, accessibly via subpeona from defense counsel, would be a Good Thing in a lot of instances.

    Yes, many station houses do this already, hence the proliferation of videos on the 'net and extreme TV shows of drunks falling into walls during breathalyzer tests or prostitutes loudly telling the officers that they'll take it in the ass from the whole department if they can get off the hook, etc. Still, just look at the West Memphis Three case to see the horror of uncertainty surrounding a suspect (a mentally challeneged kid, actually) being questioned for hours about a murder he denied, then after more questioning with the camera off suddenly admitting guilt and implicating two friends.


    Originally posted by Thorn View Post
    In theory, having police badge/ID numbers on riot gear makes sense. ...[Howefer,] Once certain groups began using intimidation techniques against off-duty officers and their families a line was crossed.
    I wasn't aware that this was as big a problem as that... the off-duty reprecussions, i mean. What about a solution like this, then... randomly-assigned numbers get generated for each officer on duty during large-scale policing events. These random numbers, prominently displayed on their exterior, could be used to directly tie any anonymous person in a tape to a real life individual if a line is crossed, but only after charges are officially filed and found to have merit by a judge, etc.


    Originally posted by Thorn View Post
    Everyone who wanted to not disperse would then whip out a camera, and stand around filming each other.
    yeap. i can see the trouble there. i still think that any authority figure who intentionally destroys the gear or confiscates the film from a person who is recording them needs to demonstrate strong reason for doing so or face disciplinary consequences.

    Leave a comment:


  • Thorn
    replied
    Re: Technology, Civil Liberties, and Monitoring Authorities

    Originally posted by Grifter View Post
    At least the Utah Trooper tasing from a few months back wasn't Renderman. (-2 Troll)

    Damnit! I can't turn it off.
    Was it the deer? (-3 Troll)

    Leave a comment:


  • Grifter
    replied
    Re: Technology, Civil Liberties, and Monitoring Authorities

    Don't Tase Me Bro!! (-1 Troll)


    Sorry, I had to. I'm for recording as long as all actions are shown so that both sides of the story can be seen/heard, and yet I don't want to live in a surveillance society. So what do you do?

    At least the Utah Trooper tasing from a few months back wasn't Renderman. (-2 Troll)

    Damnit! I can't turn it off.

    Leave a comment:


  • Thorn
    replied
    Re: Technology, Civil Liberties, and Monitoring Authorities

    My ties are well known, I'll toss out a couple of thoughts here:

    1) Recordings, unless reviewed in the raw format rarely, if ever, show the whole story. A bit of choice editing can slant something dramatically. Also, they don't show what happened prior to the recorder being turned on.

    2) Personally, I never had any issues with civilians making recordings. The problem with many civilians in that area is that they don't know the difference between observation and interference and get themselves in trouble. There is a huge difference between standing back with a zoom lens, and getting into the middle of a fight to obtain a close up. Also, in there zeal to capture the next great video or get the perfect picture, a lot of civilians (and the press to a lesser extent) manage to place themselves in danger, creating more problems (e.g, not paying attention and walking into traffic.)

    3) The press as a general rule gets better treatment and more leeway than civilians do under the same circumstances, and often times they get much more leeway -if not outright special consideration- than they should. As a group and individually, they are often given access to official areas, or or expect the police to set up "press only" areas so that they can do their recordings and stand-ups. The violations the press as a whole commit (illegal parking, excessively speeding to high-profile incidents, etc.) are usually overlooked by the cops. On the other hand, the press for the most part knows exactly where the difference lies between interference and observation, and are usually pretty good about getting footage, pictures or information they need without causing more problems.

    4) In theory, having police badge/ID numbers on riot gear makes sense. In practical application in today's world, I would actively discourage any officer from displaying any identifying information in a demonstration and would go so far as to say and it should be part of every department's policy to not have any ID other than unit identification. Once certain groups began using intimidation techniques against off-duty officers and their families a line was crossed. It is no longer merely part of the job, and it became personal. Is that bad from an accountability standpoint? You bet, but no one protects the civil liberties of the individual cops and their families, so they have to do that themselves.

    5) I have to respectively disagree on the "camera exemption." An order to disperse means 'everyone present', not 'everyone except the guys with the cameras'. All that would do would create a loophole. Everyone who wanted to not disperse would then whip out a camera, and stand around filming each other. Show me a way that that wouldn't happen, and I might change my mind.

    Most demonstrators that I had to deal with as a cop knew exactly where the lines were, and were respectful of the limits. If told they couldn't go past a given point, or into a certain area, most would comply and we all got along fine. The biggest problem was with certain people deliberately would act in violation in order to spark an incident in hopes that it would get them on the news or in print. And something that's true of almost any group, no matter what their agenda.
    Last edited by Thorn; February 12, 2008, 14:24. Reason: Typos

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  • theprez98
    replied
    Re: Technology, Civil Liberties, and Monitoring Authorities

    Those interested in this thread might find these interesting:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inverse_surveillance
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copwatch

    Leave a comment:


  • theprez98
    replied
    Re: Technology, Civil Liberties, and Monitoring Authorities

    It's no wonder that the very few incidents of abuse are newsworthy. On the other hand, who would post a YouTube video of a police officer doing his job in a lawful manner? That would be boring. It's easy to find videos of police brutality precisely because these are the only videos people actually publish.

    A few points in general:

    There are bad apples in every profession.

    Police officers are human. They sometimes make mistakes.

    I'm not justifying what this officer did. But how many thousand Baltimore PD officers did the right thing that day, and everyday?

    Originally posted by Deviant Ollam
    It provides for a near-perfect, indisputable record of happenings and eliminates assertions of bias or faulty recollection later.
    I disagree with this very much so. The problem with video recordings is that people assuming the tape is everything that occurred. People get so fixated on the video that they almost tend to ignore anything that occurred before or after the film. The Rodney King video is infamous for this (for what it didn't show). If you watched only the video (as was shown over and over again on TV), you would easily conclude the officers beat a helpless man. What happened before the video, Mr. King high on PCP and fighting back, was only fully brought out in trial when the officers were acquitted of excessive force.

    Leave a comment:


  • renderman
    replied
    Re: Technology, Civil Liberties, and Monitoring Authorities

    There was a case recently where a teen (16 or so) secretly recorded his interrogation on an mp3 player. The officer said something in the interrogation that he later denied saying while under oath.

    The defense pulled the recording out and all hell broke loose of course.

    Normally you are not allowed to have a recording device in an interrogation room, but given the circumstances the kid was'nt charged which made me think that we should all be recording interrogations separate of the authorities as a double protection against them 'accidently turning off cameras, etc.

    It all comes down to the age old question of "who watches the watchers"

    Leave a comment:


  • Technology, Civil Liberties, and Monitoring Authorities

    It seems like this incident happened a while back, but for some reason it's just now hitting Fark, the wire services, etc.

    A Baltimore police officer was suspended yesterday after a YouTube video surfaced on the Internet showing him berating and manhandling a teenage skateboarder at the Inner Harbor.

    On the video, the officer, Salvatore Rivieri, puts the boy in a headlock, pushes him to the ground, questions his upbringing, threatens to "smack" him and repeatedly accuses the youngster of showing disrespect because the youth refers to the officer as "man" and "dude."
    The YouTube link is here. It's only about three and a half minutes but well worth the watching. Frankly this footage makes my stomach turn. (That's no disrespect to our community members with ties to law enforcement, i recognize how hard it can be on the Job and how often these sorts of incidents are people captured on camera on a particularly bad day.) The fact that this is just some poor little kid is what really gets me. I wasn't a little angel when i was 13 or 14, but if a humongous dude tackled me, started yelling in my face, and made veiled threats on my life, there's a chance i would have had a hard time holding back tears... particularly if they were sporting a badge.

    My topic here is this... how do you feel about the role technology plays in monitoring authority figures and protecting citizens' rights? I have some specific questions, too...

    1. What do you feel that people's rights should be concerning the recording of authority figures in the performance of their duties? Do you feel there are any boundaries? Under what conditions, circumstances, etc. do you think that recording should not be allowed?

    2. How would you react if an authority figure attempted to get you to stop making a recording? Keep in mind, that the hardest part is often walking the line between still documenting vs. getting someone so amped up on a power trip that they confiscate/destroy your camera.

    3. If you could wave a magic wand and adjust the laws concerning the recording of law enforcement or other authority figures, what policies would you have put in place?


    As per usual, i'll insert my own "ideal world" notions here..

    1. I believe the recording of authority figures in the performance of their duties is an essential right of the populace in a modern, free society. I think it is a check on the power of the few and often the only safeguard and tool for the redress of wrongs. There once was a time that someone's testimony against another (even if that other party was an officer, etc) was enough to raise a flag. Now, sadly, most authority figures are given total assumption of accuracy in their statements in court and the justice system is too bogged down to take citizen complaints seriously unless loss of life or major injury happens. Multimedia audio/video recording takes all ambiguity and emotion out of the process. It provides for a near-perfect, indisputable record of happenings and eliminates assertions of bias or faulty recollection later.

    The only time I feel that the recording of law enforcement, or other authority figures should be disallowed is when the mere act of recording creates a real and clearly defined public safety interest. Namely, if you are blocking traffic or the ease of movement of people (stopping your car on a street to film out a window, standing in the middle of a sidewalk and not moving) or if you are documenting something with security repercussions (filming at the passport control area of airports is illegal, as well as most places like jails or courthouses. i understand the former more than the latter but accept all these considerations more or less overall)

    I feel that citizens should have total permission to film anyone if they are standing in public and not interfering with a situation. If a crowd is told to disperse from somewhere (say, a picket line or a political march is being broken up for failure to have proper permits) I would believe that a person who stands off to the side, or in a doorway, etc. and is filming should be given additional consideration and leeway. If they are not speaking to passers-by or the officers and not attempting to interfere they shouldn't be met with the customary screams of "you, too! turn that fucking camera off and get moving!!"

    2. I would react in one of two ways... if i had reasonable belief that the officer wouldn't make a grab for my gear (or if they didn't know they were being recorded) I would keep documenting as much as possible and be as respectful as possible. If i had a fear of being illegally searched and having equipment seized I would likely try to slip the camera into a pocket or bag immediately (but letting it keep rolling) so as to at least have an audio record of the rest of the proceedings. The individual may still attempt to rifle through my belongings and take my possessions, but that crosses a clear line. They can't make the argument as easily that you voluntarily handed them the camera, etc.

    3. I hold in my heart a dream that two policies would be mandated either by every state or set as a federal standard...

    law one: clear identification - when in regular uniform or especially when in riot gear (which obscures faces, etc) i wish that police were required to have their badge numbers prominently appear on their clothing. i have seen more officers than I can count who place gaffer's tape or other obscuring items over top of their badges and ID name plates when they are out in the streets (this is most commonly seen during protests, marches, strikes, etc)

    i would like to see police riot uniforms actually look like goddamn sports jerseys with the officers' badge numbers appearing on each shoulder and in LARGE print across their backs.

    failure to equip a department with such uniforms should result in fines upon a community and any officer caught in their uniform at any time with their name or identifying numbers intentionally obscured should face mandatory suspension without pay on a penalty scale that increases per offense.

    law two: interfering with the press - I believe that authority figures should be brought up on administrative charges if evidence exists that they improperly harassed either official press or private citizens attempting to document their work in any way. Giving orders to disperse without cause, repeatedly telling a person to "back up" from a scene without specifying the required safe distance, or confiscating someone's equipment or film should be treated with extreme harshness. Anytime film or recording equipment of any kind is confiscated a report should be mandatory and persons should be made to pay severely if the film winds up damaged or erased without explanation. I realize my views are very extreme here, but I would almost like to "interference with documentation" treated about on par with the use of non-lethal force... something that must always be written up in daily logs if it happens and something that can result in disciplinary action if it was done without legal reason.

    Also, part of this second law would be an affirmative defense for private citizens against charges of "disturbing the peace" or "failure to comply with an officer's command" if the circumstances show that they were not interfering and making a recording of an authority figure in the performance of duties.

    as i say, my views are extreme... and i recognize that. but i simply know so many people who have been beaten, harassed, abused, etc. etc. and in the process have had their cameras and such just smashed on the street right in front of them.

    for every video that hits YouTube (casing the department's brass to issue a Mea Culpa and assign the person involved to desk duty with pay for a week) there are a dozen incidents that go unnoticed because no one had a camera rolling, or because they were discovered to be filming and were beaten more severely and had their recording destroyed.

    UPDATE: my absolute dream of how authority figures should handle themselves can be seen in a famous internet video where a man goes absolutely berserk -- screaming and carrying on -- but the officer, who is totally secure in the knowledge that he has all the power and control of the situation, stays totally calm, collected, and professional. The officer doesn't budge and inch and even makes the man get out and pick up ripped pieces of one ticket (telling him that he'd be written up for littering otherwise) and lets the guy go on his way. I'd buy that officer a beer every day of the week and twice on sunday. He handles himself with total decorum and does not escalate the situation because he knows that it would be totally unnecessary to do so. The officer is going to get his way no matter what, and there is no reason to cause a larger incident just because someone is having a bad day.

    Again, i recognize that i'll never know the pressures and demands of being on the job. If i had to deal with all the fuckheads that are out there in the general public on a day to day basis i'd likely need counseling. But, my position on the matter of how police should interact with those who record them remains.

    UPDATE TWO: oh, forgot to mention... i feel that wiretapping laws should have no application at all when it comes to making audio recordings of authorities. as Bruce Schneier pointed out, the power imbalance between citizens and authority figures makes something appropriate in one direction but an abuse of power in the other.
    Last edited by Deviant Ollam; February 12, 2008, 10:03.
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