An American understands his position when dealing with his government.

In Uncategorized on June 4, 2010 at 1:05 pm

June 3, 2010

Videotape Police Abuse,

Go to Jail?

The technology is becoming more widely available for instant remote

transfer of live video. You can not only record an encounter but send the footage in real time outside the jurisdiction of whatever local law enforcement might be involved. This makes it much more difficult for police to seize the footage or ‘accidentally’ destroy the device. As this becomes more common, I think bad cops will have an increasingly hard time, especially as the devices become smaller and they have no idea who might be recording or from what angles. Right now, they can perform for cameras they know are there (such as squad car cameras) to set up ‘justification’ for violence. Now, it may seem hypocritical of me to support this technology and be very set against stop light cameras and other routine government surveillance. There is no hypocrisy here: it is perfectly moral for citizens to do things which are immoral when done by the government. The reverse is not true.

If I disclose information to you, your power with respect to me

increases. One way to address this power imbalance is for you to similarly disclose information to me. We both have less privacy, but the balance of power is maintained. But this mechanism fails utterly if you and I have different power levels to begin with. An example will make this clearer. You’re stopped by a police officer, who demands to see identification. Divulging your identity will give the officer enormous power over you: He or she can search police databases using the information on your ID; he or she can create a police record attached to your name; he or she can put you on this or that secret terrorist watch list. Asking to see the officer’s ID in return gives you no comparable power over him or her. The power imbalance is too great, and mutual disclosure does not make it OK.


The Myth of the “Transparent Society,” Bruce Schneir (http://www.schneier.com/essay-208.html


The question has never really been about ‘privacy’ but balance of power.

Additionally, I believe it is a fundamental Right of a citizen to record— by whatever available means— any transaction with the government, Our Founders would never have denied a citizen the right to have a fair witness at such a transaction and a camera is no different— just a witness savant.

Government officials never have a ‘right of privacy’ in their official

capacities. Period. Officials do not have ‘rights’ when acting officially, only delegated powers subject to citizen oversight. Government is a public trust and must be visible at all times. Wiretapping and surveillance laws are not applicable to a situation of a citizen recording police or other government activities for self- protection. It is not a matter of how the law reads, it is a fundamental injustice to apply such a law to a citizen and violates the principle of equity at law because citizens and government officials are not on equal footing to begin with. Any law which purports to limit a citizen’s rights in this matter violates the structure of our legal system at its most basic level and is void.


Eric Vought

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