This post was also written by John Hines, and Frederick Lah.
Just how much privacy are we entitled to in public places, such as public highways and buses, classrooms, restaurants, or even on the Internet? While we expect to lose some sense of privacy when we move into public spaces, does this mean that we should be subject to being recorded (and subsequently publicized on a site like YouTube) anytime we are in public? Two recent cases involving the recording of police officers highlight the debate surrounding these questions.
Back in April 2010, motorcyclist Anthony Graber was charged with violating Maryland’s wiretapping laws after he used a camera in his helmet to videotape a state trooper brandish his gun while stopping Graber for speeding. To see the YouTube Video, please click here. The Maryland court dismissed the charges, providing that “[i]n this rapid information technology era in which we live, it is hard to imagine that either an offender or an officer would have any reasonable expectation of privacy with regard to what is said between them in a traffic stop on a public highway.”
Later, in March 2011, the ACLU, on behalf of Khaliah Fitchette, filed a complaint against the City of Newark, N.J. after Fitchette was handcuffed and detained for using her smart phone to record two police officers deal with a disorderly man on a bus. Fitchette was allegedly detained for two hours in the back of the squad car but no charges were filed against her. Fitchette’s phone was seized by the police and the video was deleted. The complaint alleges violations of the Fourth Amendment and Fitchette’s First Amendment right to record and disseminate the video. A decision has not yet been made on the case.Continue Reading Does “Public” Privacy Exist?