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Censorship Cellphones Crime United States Your Rights Online

Leave a Message, Go To Jail 486

Posted by timothy
from the live-free-or-hey-shut-that-thing-off dept.
Okian Warrior writes "A man in Weare, New Hampshire was charged with felony wiretapping for recording the police during a traffic stop — based on a cell phone call he made as an officer approached his vehicle. From the article: Police considered it wiretapping because the call was being recorded by a voice mail service without the officer's consent."
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Leave a Message, Go To Jail

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  • by Gordonjcp (186804) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:01PM (#35391022) Homepage

    Makes me more and more glad I live in the UK.

    • by Zapotek (1032314) <tasos.laskos@nosPAm.gmail.com> on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:05PM (#35391046) Homepage
      Good one mate! That's what I call British humour!
      PS. I live in the UK too and I have to keep my blinds shut due to the traffic camera firmly pointed towards my bedroom window.
      • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @04:14PM (#35391620)

        PS. I live in the UK too and I have to keep my blinds shut due to the traffic camera firmly pointed towards my bedroom window.

        On behalf of all net denizens, I'd like to thank you - please continue keeping those blinds closed.

      • Yeah because complaining to the council or disabling the camera yourself would just be stupid. Yes we lack some rights that the US has, like the ability to completely ruin someone's funeral in a Fred Phelps style but we also have a lot of rights and protection that the US lacks.

        Having lived in both countries I can safely say I am proud to live in the UK no matter how damp and miserable people think it is and if my neighbours want to dream about moving to places like Spain then fine. That just makes it b
        • by Totenglocke (1291680) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @04:39PM (#35391774)

          Yes, you have the right to be spied on and have your every movement and action monitored. You have the right to have your children arrested for climbing a tree (if you don't recall, it was on slashdot a year or two ago, where three 12 year olds were arrested for climbing a tree and inadvertently damaging the bark in the process). You have the right to be forced to be financially responsible for other people. The list goes on.

          I'm completely with you on the whole "The US is crap with a psychotic government" issue. The problem is, the rest of the world is worse. If there were a better country to move to, I'd gladly let the TSA fondle my balls before I say "Fuck off America, I'm free!" as I board the plane.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Funny thing you mention that. I was trying to do this EXACT thing. I had a one way ticket to what is considered a '3rd world' country. The nice ticketing agent at United Airlines asked me if I had a return ticket. I said no. She asked me if I was visiting family or friends. I said no. She asked when I would be returning. I said I was just going to play things by ear, and maybe do some sheep farming. She looked at me kind of funny. The really funny thing is that she 'determined' that my passport wh

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by cavebison (1107959)

            If there were a better country to move to

            God forbid there's a "better county" out there than the US. Oh no, not possible. There can't possibly be over 30 countries with greater life expectancy [wikipedia.org] than the US. Oh no. Nor can the US possibly be 12th in the quality of life index [wikipedia.org], or not top of the human development index [wikipedia.org] or.. fuck it, pick your index, the only one the US is on top of is the Blind Arrogance Index. But hey you're free to do that too.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 05, 2011 @04:57PM (#35391912)

        Despite the insane surveillance of the UK, given the equivalent in the US, it would equal catastrophe. The police state in the UK may be , excessive, advanced and sophisticated, but it's a bit more passive in direct application than in the US. Also, I suspect the prison industry is a less vital part of the UK economy. In the US, the prison industry booming, and aggressively supported. Citizens are virtually hunted to fill the prison cells in the US. In the UK, you'd not serve ten years for possession.

    • by dadioflex (854298)
      Cos... oh, yeah... photographing police is against the law here.

      No need for this or that. Just, wham, against the law.
      • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice.gmail@com> on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:14PM (#35391142)
        Uhm, not in the UK it isn't - there are no laws forbidding you from photographing or videoing the police while on duty....

        Members of the public and the media do not need a permit to film or photograph in public places and police have no power to stop them filming or photographing incidents or police personnel.

        Source: The police themselves! http://www.met.police.uk/about/photography.htm [police.uk]

        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:30PM (#35391262)

          This article [guardian.co.uk] describes three activists being arrested (it's not mentioned in the article, but they were all later acquitted); it's not clear if they were arrested for photographing police offices or for simply asking police officers to give their badge numbers (neither are illegal in the UK, and police officers are required by law to give their badge numbers when requested by a member of the public).

          The problem is that the police frequently seem to be unaware of what the law says.

          FitWatch [fitwatch.org.uk] is a great resource for seeing how the police photographers act, and how they expect civilian photographers to act.

          Posting anonymously because I live in what is rapidly becoming a very unpleasant place to live.

          • Remember what they say about the law? Being "ignorant" of the law does not mean being innocent? So I ask, what's the punishment for false arrest/detainment and not complying by giving one's badge number?

            • by Mateorabi (108522)
              I'm guessing he's given bruises on his knuckles from where he beat you, as his punishment. And a stern "don't get caught next time" talk from his Sargent?
        • by MidoriKid (473433) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:41PM (#35391360)

          That link says they have the power to confiscate anything they think might be evidence of terrorism. "This includes any mobile telephone or camera containing such evidence."

          So basically, you can photograph and video tape the police if you want your camera seized.

    • by Weezul (52464)

      It's true you won't get shot by cops in the U.K. but you get your live micromanaged in other ways. Europe will usually be "more free" than either.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    gotta love NH.

  • by Zaphod-AVA (471116) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:04PM (#35391044)

    If you believe that use of the wiretapping law in instances like this is abuse, make sure your district attorney knows that prosecuting these cases means you will do your best to get a different person into their office next election.

    • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:08PM (#35391090) Homepage
      That would require being an active citizen. It's much easier to just post on Slashdot talking about how elected officials are all corrupt and evil members of the Illuminati.
    • by hedwards (940851) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:23PM (#35391200)

      It's not abuse, it's almost certain to be the natural extension of the law. The laws on wiretapping don't generally specify the methods that are used to do the actual recording, so an audio recording of any sort is equal to any other. If you're in a 2 party consent state, then this sort of prosecution is to be expected, if the person did the recording, which it sounds like he did, then he'll end up being charged and likely convicted.

      There isn't anything inherently abusive about it, the statutes are there for everybody to read and if you're going to record somebody without their consent then you need to be really careful that you don't violate the law.

      Now, whether the statute itself is reasonable or in this instance is within the protection of the constitution is a different matter all together. This seems a bit overly strict and probably not what the people writing the law really had in mind.

      • by cob666 (656740) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:29PM (#35391246) Homepage

        It's not abuse, it's almost certain to be the natural extension of the law. The laws on wiretapping don't generally specify the methods that are used to do the actual recording, so an audio recording of any sort is equal to any other. If you're in a 2 party consent state, then this sort of prosecution is to be expected, if the person did the recording, which it sounds like he did, then he'll end up being charged and likely convicted.

        By your logic, if I am in line at Dunkin Donuts and the person in front of me (Joe) is on the phone leaving a message while I'm talking to my friend then Joe is guilty of illegal wiretapping.

        • The article fails to mention whether he initiated the voice mail recording for the specific purpose of recording his interaction with the police officer. If so, then the city might have a case (NH is an all party consent state). On the other hand, any competent judge should throw out a criminal case where the sole evidence was a snippet of conversation accidentally recorded from a cellphone. Intent still matters in this country... For now, anyway. IANALBIPOTGL (I Am Not a Lawyer, But I Pretended Once To Get
        • That's not his logic, that's the way the law is written (in some states anyway). Just because you don't like it (and, for the record, neither do I) doesn't make him wrong.

        • by jamesh (87723) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @05:09PM (#35392018)

          It's not abuse, it's almost certain to be the natural extension of the law. The laws on wiretapping don't generally specify the methods that are used to do the actual recording, so an audio recording of any sort is equal to any other. If you're in a 2 party consent state, then this sort of prosecution is to be expected, if the person did the recording, which it sounds like he did, then he'll end up being charged and likely convicted.

          By your logic, if I am in line at Dunkin Donuts and the person in front of me (Joe) is on the phone leaving a message while I'm talking to my friend then Joe is guilty of illegal wiretapping.

          Even worse in that case because there are almost certainly police officers present.

      • by Chibi Merrow (226057) <mrmerrow@@@monkeyinfinity...net> on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:55PM (#35391454) Homepage Journal

        A public official has no expectation of privacy while going about their official duties... Believing anything else is insanity.

        • by cdrguru (88047) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @04:19PM (#35391662) Homepage

          For the most part the police recording statues and the enforcement of them is rooted in the idea that the person "in conference" with the police or being arrested is actually deserving of some kind of privacy. If it is legal to photograph and record the police when they are talking to you, then it is equally legal to photograph and record the police when they are arresting your neighbor - at least that is my understanding of how these laws came to be and how they are being enforced.

          Of course, the corrallary is also true then, that you can be photographed and recorded when you are being stopped for a red light violation. And in the US there are few restrictions on what you can do with a photograph once has been taken. This means that having it appear in the local 10-page newspaper with the caption "Dangerous Criminal Arrested" when it was a traffic stop is perfectly OK. Of course, you might get the newpaper to print a retraction on page 8, but why would anyone look at that?

          Further, today with Internet your picture and recording can end up in the hands of people worldwide.

          So, think about exactly what you want. Is photographing the police and recording them something that is OK? Fine, then get the laws changed. But you don't get to decide that it is OK for you to do it but not anyone else. I don't think you get to say it is OK for the person the police are focusing their attention on right then to do it but not anyone else that happens by. This would effectively mean that any interaction with the police is public, which today it is not.

          • For the most part the police recording statues and the enforcement of them is rooted in the idea that the person "in conference" with the police or being arrested is actually deserving of some kind of privacy.

            People are not being arrested for recording suspects and/or victims, they're being arrested for recording cops. Regardless, if they're in a public place they don't have an expectation of privacy. If they want privacy, they should go somewhere private.

            So, think about exactly what you want. Is photograp

          • by Sabriel (134364)

            This means that having it appear in the local 10-page newspaper with the caption "Dangerous Criminal Arrested" when it was a traffic stop is perfectly OK. Of course, you might get the newpaper to print a retraction on page 8, but why would anyone look at that?

            Is a red light violation a criminal offence in the US that results in an automatic and immediate criminal conviction? Because otherwise you're still innocent until proven guilty in court, and I'd think the newspaper would be facing a libel suit for d

      • by joebagodonuts (561066) <cmkrnl.gmail@com> on Saturday March 05, 2011 @04:03PM (#35391502) Homepage Journal

        1 The charge itself is effectively a punishment.

        2 The Wiretap statute doesn't apply.

        Abuse.

        Cops like to do this to scare people from recording them. Many of the instances I've read about, this ends up being thrown out. They want to cover their ass, rather than serve and protect. This type of "scope creep" should be strongly discouraged.

        When you use the phrase "natural extension" of a law; I can't help thinking that makes it whimsical. "The law is what I SAY it is!"

        • by Maestro4k (707634)

          Cops like to do this to scare people from recording them. Many of the instances I've read about, this ends up being thrown out. They want to cover their ass, rather than serve and protect. This type of "scope creep" should be strongly discouraged.

          Exactly right, they don't want to be recorded, and it's generally because they behave badly (why else would they object to that recording?) You can almost always tell when this is the case because, as in this one, their car video cameras were mysteriously not working that day/night. When the police 1. charge someone with ridiculous wiretap charges for recording and/or videotaping them (because the video also captures audio) and 2. conveniently don't have their normal video proof of all interactions, then

      • by russotto (537200) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @05:37PM (#35392292) Journal

        It's not abuse, it's almost certain to be the natural extension of the law. The laws on wiretapping don't generally specify the methods that are used to do the actual recording, so an audio recording of any sort is equal to any other. If you're in a 2 party consent state, then this sort of prosecution is to be expected, if the person did the recording, which it sounds like he did, then he'll end up being charged and likely convicted.

        Actually, these laws having been around for a while, nuances like this HAVE been worked out. Both the question of whether communication during a traffic stop is a communication subject to the law, and whether or not an incidental interception like this is covered. Even if they've been worked out in a way which is not to the cops favor, however, the cops will keep arresting based on them, because there's no cost to them to do so. Thus, the cops make their own law regardless of what legislators or judges actually say. Until cops start getting serious penalties, meaning dismissal AND jail time, for doing this sort of thing, they'll keep doing it. Without looking at the case law (which I don't have access to), there's a few problems with the cop's point of view. The second-biggest is this:

        II. "Oral communication'' means any oral communication uttered by a person exhibiting an expectation that such communication is not subject to interception under circumstances justifying such expectation. III. "Intercept'' means the aural or other acquisition of, or the recording of, the contents of any telecommunication or oral communication through the use of any electronic, mechanical, or other device.

        If you're talking to someone who is openly using a cell phone, you cannot reasonably justify an expectation that what you say will not reach the other party in the conversation. Since it's an interception whether or not the other party is recording, it doesn't matter that he had voice mail on the other end. The biggest, however, is this one:

        IV. "Electronic, mechanical, or other device'' means any device or apparatus which can be used to intercept a telecommunication or oral communication other than: (a) Any telephone or telegraph instrument, equipment, facility or any component thereof: (1) Furnished to the subscriber or user by a communication carrier in the ordinary course of its business and being used by the subscriber or user in the ordinary course of its business or furnished by such subscriber or user for connection to the facilities of such service and used in the ordinary course of its business in accordance with applicable provisions of telephone and telegraph company rules and regulations, as approved by the public utilities commission;

        That's right: telephone equipment is specifically excluded. Assuming his voicemail was provided by his carrier, that's excluded too. He's innocent by black-letter law, and the cops are committing a clear abuse by arresting him under the circumstances.

      • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @06:55PM (#35392906)

        "If you're in a 2 party consent state, then this sort of prosecution is to be expected, if the person did the recording, which it sounds like he did, then he'll end up being charged and likely convicted."

        Just plain wrong.

        In nearly every state -- including those with "all party" (not "2 party") consent laws -- it is only illegal to record if the other party has not given permission, AND that party has a reasonable expectation of privacy!!!

        When events occur in public, nobody has "a reasonable expectation of privacy". That is not just my opinion, that has been the consistent court ruling. There have probably been a few redneck judges who have deviated from this precedent, but if so they are in the minority.

        Further, if the policeman has a dashboard camera that is running (most of the time these days during a traffic stop), then even if it did not take place on the public streets, the officer still has no reasonable expectation of privacy, because he knows the events are being recorded (usually with sound via the officer's radio).

        So, in almost all parts of the United States, it is legal to record the police while they are on duty, at least in public. And not just video, but sound as well. And that has also been the consistent ruling by judges when cases like this have gone to court. Municipalities all around the United States have been having to pay heavy damages for false prosecution and rights violations when people have gotten charged with crimes for recording.

        Just as an aside: collection agencies and other such entities also do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy when they begin a conversation with a live or recorded statement that "this conversation may be recorded for quality assurance purposes" or the like. Record away on your end. And then use it in court against them if the situation arises.

  • hurry up and revolt (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:05PM (#35391050)

    Hurry up and revolt.

    Cue a dozen, "It's not as bad as under Honecker, so we don't need to do anything yet!" responses.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by SimonTS (1984074)

      They're Americans. They're already revolting ;-P

  • by v(*_*)vvvv (233078) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:05PM (#35391052)

    Unless they were on private property? Even if the car is considered private property, unless the officer was sitting in the passenger seat, anyone can record anything they want anywhere if it is in public. That is the premise for most all security cameras and recordings anywhere ever.

    • Yes, I'm pretty sure that the courts have said that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in a traffic stop on a public highway. Unfortunately, NH, may well have more restrictive laws.
      I wonder whether that audio is publicly available.
      IANAL
      • Somehow I am doubting the home of the Free State Project has MORE restrictive laws regarding personal liberties.
        • by quickOnTheUptake (1450889) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:48PM (#35391408)
          Here is a summary of NH law [rcfp.org]. It does seem pretty severe. According to this article [boingboing.net] only two states don't allow recording without consent when there is no reasonable expectation of privacy. From link one, it looks like NH may be one of them.
          • by quickOnTheUptake (1450889) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:50PM (#35391424)
            relevant law [nhdcyf.info]
          • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Saturday March 05, 2011 @07:16PM (#35393072) Homepage Journal

            Here is a summary of NH law [rcfp.org]. It does seem pretty severe.

            It is, and a favorite tool of abuse. We [nhliberty.org]'re working to get this fixed.

            Here's my testimony [youtube.com] before the NH House for a bill that would remove any possible wiretapping charges when it involves a public employee executing his duties ("On The Job, On The Record"). New Hampshire folk, please call your reps and ask them to support HB145.

            Now, then, the interesting part. This video was shot by the man so accused - he's an accomplished videographer [youtube.com] who spends a tremendous amount of volunteer time video recording NH Legislative hearings for those who cannot attend. He participated in the political process to get rid of this abusive loophole in the law just a handful of days before charges were brought. On an 8-month old 'incident', one that's likely to be dismissed on a simple reading of the law (a telecommunications device, e.g. a cell phone, is explicitly excepted). His video comments were critical (and rightly so) of those who abuse the system. To me, this is retribution for engaging in the political process.

            The first bit of testimony in this video was from a woman who was targeted by the same police department (one that refuses to return her camera even after charges were dismissed). It's hoped that the chief is replaced in the election this coming Tuesday (and thus a house-cleaning can begin - these charges against the department are among the less severe).

    • No. There are different laws for video vs audio, as well as based on jurisdiction.

      For example, I recall one story where a landlord installed spycams in an tenants apartment and recorded her, but he wasn't convicted because he only recorded video [if he had audio, then he would have been].

      Some jurisdictions require both parties to consent to recording audio, some just one party. I would guess most places have video without audio generally is permissible in public places, but IANAL.

    • by b4upoo (166390) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:40PM (#35391350)

      It is not recording video that gives the law entry into most situations. It is recording voice. Security systems are usually video only. This is probably frightened, corrupt, public officials fearing it is too easy to catch them in their corruption if voice recording is allowed. All people should have the right to covertly record voice and video anywhere at anytime. Anything outside the walls of their home is public by definition.

  • by corsec67 (627446) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:06PM (#35391064) Homepage Journal

    Charge the police officer with Wiretapping for intercepting communications between the man and his cell phone.

  • Double standard? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shoten (260439) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:08PM (#35391076)

    That's odd...because many (if not most) states have systems whereby the actions in front of the car are recorded on video, and audio is captured from a microphone on the officer. The basis for this not needing a warrant is common law precedent that during a traffic stop there is no expectation of privacy...so how is there an expectation of privacy if it's the person being stopped who does the recording?

    • by grapeape (137008) <mpope7@kc[ ].com ['.rr' in gap]> on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:12PM (#35391126) Homepage

      Because if its the police doing the recording its easier for the recording to go missing or accidentally glitch than it would be if the person being pulled over did the recording.

      • Re:Double standard? (Score:5, Informative)

        by FlatEric521 (1164027) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:37PM (#35391328)

        Because if its the police doing the recording its easier for the recording to go missing or accidentally glitch than it would be if the person being pulled over did the recording.

        And the article mentions that claim:

        Police also claim dashboard camera videos of her arrest aren't available because the equipment wasn't working that night. Hipple said police don't have maintenance records to prove the cameras weren't working.

        That was from an earlier arrest of a different person, so it might be no surprise that the man the article focused on didn't trust the police to have records of his traffic stop.

    • by Rivalz (1431453)

      It was probably more about the idea of being able to arrest the guy on a trumped up charge than to actually get a conviction.
      That is the great thing about the law enforcement agencies. You can screw people without actually having to convict them of any wrong doing.
      There is not much you can do to fight, stop, or prevent it aside from thoroughly screening who gets to be a police officer.
      The system was actually intended to work this way.

    • by morari (1080535)

      It's the same old story... Murder in a costume is a crime. Murder in a uniform is heroic.

  • It's odd that New Hampshire is almost militant about civil liberties but someone has managed to jigger things so that they are a two-party state.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:12PM (#35391128)

    Funny how every time I hear of a case like this it's a cop being recorded. Since they are public servants shouldn't it be legal to record them if they are on duty? This is strictly about them not wanting records when they do something wrong. With current technology I think they should have at least audio recording of on duty police officers. It would be valuable evidence that would help back up the cops testimony. I think it shows how often there is wrong doing by cops given how violently opposed they are to recordings. I still remember the video taping of a cop slamming a kid into the trunk of a car in LA. They made all sorts of excuses but it was inexcusable behavior. The kid was handcuffed and unconscious when he got slammed in the trunk. It actually woke him up when he hit the car after they beat him unconscious. His crime? He was filling up the car while his father sat inside. It was a case of mistaken identity but the cops consider everyone guilty until proven innocent. FYI I've got two family members that were cops but I also lived 25 years in LA and had some very bad experiences with them.

  • by Riot.ATL (1365395) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:16PM (#35391150)
    Atlanta's police are corrupt and brutal; it's for my own safety. They've beat me down before and left me, without any arrest, bleeding on the sidewalk. Every single time I interact with an officer where I'm suspected of committing a crime, I record the audio.
  • How stupid. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Renraku (518261) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:20PM (#35391172) Homepage
    Wiretap, noun - an act or instance of tapping telephone or telegraph wires for evidence or other information. No wiretapping was involved. Recording in public is 100% legal in all jurisdictions if there is no reasonable expectation to privacy. Police officers do not have an expectation to privacy whenever they pull someone over in public. How the hell is this even a case? Oh, wait, gotta protect their own. Gotcha.
    • by canajin56 (660655)

      Recording in public is 100% legal in all jurisdiction

      Completely false. Public recording is, in general, illegal in all of the USA. Some states are 1-party, meaning that you can record a conversation if you have permission from at least one of the two members of that conversation. Other states (like the one in TFA) requires permission from all parties to the conversation. That means to record a police officer, you need his permission first. Nowhere in the states can you record in public without permis

      • by snowgirl (978879)

        Nowhere in the states can you record in public without permission from anybody at all. That's always illegal.

        In Washington State you can, given one exception: it's clear that you're recording. As in, you have a microphone, camera or other device displayed prominently. Also, you're allowed to record if you openly announce that you are recording before they say anything.

        In either of these cases, it's presumed that by saying anything, you're consenting to being recorded.

  • Ummmm... if he actually is a bad cop - you know, the sort who is the whole point of getting such "wire taps" in the first place - then he sure as hell isn't gonna give his consent now, is he? You'll be lucky to walk away with the recording device intact. You yourself will be lucky to walk away intact, since he now knows you suspect him of being a bad cop.

    • Re:Consent (Score:4, Insightful)

      by macraig (621737) <.mark.a.craig. .at. .gmail.com.> on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:34PM (#35391300)

      I further find it deeply disturbing that some citizens have been fighting tooth and nail to preserve the right to carry concealed firearms, yet seemingly no one has been fighting to preserve the right of citizens to protect themselves by carrying concealed recording devices. That SHOULD be a right. Instead we've had these so-called wiretapping laws in place for decades that prohibit it.

      Which would you rather have: a concealed weapon to shoot the bad cop, only to face accusations you can't refute in the aftermath, or a concealed recording device to catch the bastard red-handed in the act? You might need both, but we only have laws that protect ONE (in some places) and not the other .

      • by Maestro4k (707634)

        I further find it deeply disturbing that some citizens have been fighting tooth and nail to preserve the right to carry concealed firearms, yet seemingly no one has been fighting to preserve the right of citizens to protect themselves by carrying concealed recording devices. That SHOULD be a right. Instead we've had these so-called wiretapping laws in place for decades that prohibit it.

        Wiretapping laws, almost without exception, are meant to cover recording phone conversations, NOT public interactions. They were put on the books long before recorders small enough to hide on your person were commonplace enough for regular citizens to have them. What's happening here (and in many other cases) are police that don't want to be recorded are using laws for reasons they were never intended, and realistically don't support, to harass people who had the "nerve" to record the police when interact

  • by www.sorehands.com (142825) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:26PM (#35391224) Homepage

    http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.CON.RES.298 [loc.gov]:

    This would prevent the prosecution of the recording of the police during their official duties.

  • by Posting=!Working (197779) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:27PM (#35391232)

    Dear New Hampshire,
    You can now shorten your slogan to just "Die."

    Love,
    The police (not the band)

  • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:29PM (#35391256) Homepage

    Why is it that the police, aka public servants, are elevated to near untouchable status with these discriminatory laws ?

    If you work for the government, be it federal, provincial/state or municipal, your actions are liable to be scrutinized by the public. Police should not be an exception. They get too many "magic rights" that allow them to dominate the public they were hired to serve. If cops weren't wrongly treated as superheroes in the law, they might start behaving a little less like spoiled bullies and more like human beings again. And I dare to dream that the career would attract a lower proportion of psychopaths (seriously, look it up if you don't believe me).

    • by trawg (308495)

      Why is it that the police, aka public servants, are elevated to near untouchable status with these discriminatory laws ?

      Because the majority of US citizens, aka the public, are willing to be distracted by smoke and mirrors and television as their civil liberties are stripped away, I guess

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 05, 2011 @04:07PM (#35391556)

    Here in NH we have this thing called the "NH Liberty Alliance" which is this psuedo-anarchist libertarian/teaparty group that tries to indirectly egg-on the police.
    They pull stunts like carrying a pistol standing downtown at a crowded intersection (which is legal), and pull out the camcorder if a cop walks over to ask them if everything is ok .. I mean, let's face it, a dude with a gun and a camcorder standing on the street corner downtown -does- look a little out of place .. and when questioned they always retort with overly dramatic recitals from the bill of rights or the NH state constitution.

    This has the fingerprints of that same group written all over it, they go out of their way to get into confrontations with the police (they brag about traffic stops), push the absolute limit of legal antagonism, then cry victim if the cop gets frustrated and brings them in on some usually-BS charge of disturbing the peace or whatever.

    In short, while the details may indicate that the charge is bogus, it's important to understand we have a group of people here in NH who -actively try- to get charged with bogus crap by the police just to make a stink out of it.

    • by Plugh (27537) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @06:05PM (#35392534) Homepage

      Here in NH we have this thing called the "NH Liberty Alliance" which is this psuedo-anarchist libertarian/teaparty group that tries to indirectly egg-on the police. They pull stunts like carrying a pistol standing downtown at a crowded intersection (which is legal), and pull out the camcorder if a cop walks over to ask them if everything is ok

      As a former Director of Research for the NH Liberty Alliance [nhliberty.org], I can say fairly categorically that you're damn confused about what the NHLA is, and does.

      The NHLA is a non-partisan, libertarian-leaning political organization. The organization's goals [nhliberty.org] are "to increase individual freedom in New Hampshire. We do this by monitoring bills in the legislative sessions and encouraging private charity, a civil society, and citizen involvement."

      I suspect you are confusing the NHLA with other "liberty-oriented" groups in NH, just as the apolitical civil-disobedience crowd over at Free Keene [freekeene.com] or NH Underground [nhunderground.com]. Personally, while I agree with the philosophy and sentiment of many of those people, I despise those groups and their frankly stupid, counterproductive antics.

    • by hsmith (818216) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @07:22PM (#35393104)
      Egg-on the police now includes doing legal things, like standing around openly carrying a firearm? Sorry, exercising your rights and impacting no one is not a reason to be stopped or questioned by police.
    • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @10:26PM (#35394064)
      To be perfectly honest, I think this is perfectly legitimate. The police should approach someone who is standing on the street corner downtown carrying a firearm and a camcorder and question him. If he turns out to be a crackpot retorting with overly dramatic recitals of anything, the officer should politely inform him of any legal limits to his behavior and move on. When the police know they are interacting with such individuals they should go out of their way to be polite. These individuals should be viewed as obnoxious twits who, on those occasions when the police catch them doing something that they can be legitimately charged, as people who got what was coming to them. On those occasions when the police have no legitimate basis to charge these twits, they should be viewed (by both the general public and the police) as good training for police officers to treat innocent civilians with respect, even when those innocent civilians are annoying twits. Too often, the police view the general public as criminals they have yet to catch.
  • by mbone (558574) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @04:23PM (#35391684)

    Every time charges like this are filed, the District Attorney needs to face a recall effort. Every. Time. I will donate gladly to this effort.

    It doesn't have to be successful for them to get the message.

  • by Plugh (27537) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @06:08PM (#35392560) Homepage

    A bill is currently being heard in the NH legsilature: HB145 [nhliberty.org], Permitting the audio and video recording of any public official while in the course of his or her official duties

    The bill is co-sponsored by at least one Free-Stater >:)

  • by rs1n (1867908) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @07:45PM (#35393248)
    If merely recording an officer is grounds for a felony, what about instances where police officers are doing something wrong? Take for example, the Rodney King case. Is the person recording the officers beating a man getting a felony because they didn't get the consent of the officers? In this case, it is clear that the officers are doing something wrong. However, what about instances where their behavior might require a second look from a higher-up? In such a case, the recording might actually be useful to rectify misbehaving cops. In sum, who watches the watchers if it's not a felony to record anyone in a uniform?
  • by fishexe (168879) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @09:18PM (#35393706) Homepage
    It's oppressive to have any law that requires police consent to be recorded in public places. Preventing citizens from creating evidence that might contradict police statements is, in essence, allowing the police to do whatever they want. We have a Constitution in order to put checks on the authorities, not on the citizenry. If that's how NH law defines wiretaps, then that part of the law needs to be repealed.
  • by IHC Navistar (967161) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @05:29AM (#35395554)

    You don't need to get the officer's permission to record them during a traffic stop because:

    1) You are collecting evidence for your defense, and interfering with evidence collection by anybody, even law enforcement, is obstruction of justice,
    2) You are in a public space, where there is no expectation of privacy,
    3) You cannot leave the officer, and leaving the area would place you in violation of laws regarding obstruction of justice and evading arrest.
    4) You were smart enough to put up a window sticker stating that all communications with the driver of the vehicle are under audio/visual recording.

    This case will be dismissed, on the grounds that the officer was not the receiving party of the phone call - the answering machine was. Wiretapping laws apply to interfering or intercepting communications between a calling party and a receiving party. The officer was not the receiving party of the phone call - he was background noise - and therefore whatever he said could legally be overheard by anybody. The law provides no disclaimers or exemptions that restrict oral conversations, especially in public.

    For example: You are walking down the street. Two people in front of you are discussing a bank robbery. You overhear them. Later, they commit the robbery, and are caught. You go to the police, and are able to positively identify the suspects, and provide Law Enforcement with details about what you heard the suspects discussing. Does this mean your testimony is inadmissible? Absolutely not. Suppose you were calling a friend, and were leaving a message on their machine where the suspects can be heard discussing the robbery. Is this evidence inadmissible? No. Did you commit wiretapping? No - the other discussion was background noise.

    If you can be photographed or videotaped in public without your consent because there is no expectation of privacy, then the same goes for other mediums such as audio.

    If he gets a remotely competent lawyer, this is slam dunk in his favor.

    If you get stopped, simply:

    1) Immediately when the officer gets to the window, ask him if you can record him for evidence purposes. You are required to have proof of consent, so you CAN record this part.
    2) If he says "No", politely acknowledge his statement, state that you have his decline of consent on tape, visibly turn off the recorder, and then silently stare straight ahead.
    3)If they give you a ticket, you can sign it if you want and bring it up in court later. However, if you are gutsy enough to refuse, you can use the fact that the officer refused to allow you to collect evidence for your defense, and try to use that as justification, but I DO NOT recommend it because you WILL BE arrested.
    4) If you want to confuse the hell out of them, ask to speak with an attorney before you speak to the officer. If they say "No", state that you are being placed in unlawful legal jeopardy by being forced to communicate with the officer while being denied counsel. If he says that you can call one to visit you, call one, and tell them that your counsel will arrive at your location in 9 hours.

  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Sunday March 06, 2011 @06:04AM (#35395706) Homepage Journal

    If this pisses you off, please consider throwing a fiver to the man's legal defense fund [chipin.com]. With enough resources, it may help establish case law to prevent further such abuses. Certainly the State does not need to raise such a fund, so the odds are asymmetrically stacked against the furtherance of liberty.

"Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?" -Ronald Reagan

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