Glenn Reynolds: "You have a right to record the police"

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Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit wrote an essay for the Washington Examiner called "You have a right to record the police."

In an era when government feels free to record citizens whenever they’re out in public, government officials need to recognize that this recording business works both ways.  Want a surveillance society?  Be prepared to live in it.

Of course, the efforts to intimidate citizens via prosecutions and arrests are doomed to fail in the long run.  Pretty much every cellphone now is a video camera, a still camera, and an audio recorder.   There are even smartphone apps specifically designed for recording police encounters and uploading them to the Web so that confiscating the phone doesn’t do any good.

Tiny video cameras abound nowadays, including cameras that fit in the frames of sunglasses for added inconspicuousness.  And they keep getting smaller and cheaper.

You can’t arrest everyone with a camera, especially when you don’t even know they’ve got a camera.  But that’s not really the issue.

Technology may be winning, but the real problem is that America has a class of government workers who believe that they are above citizen scrutiny, and who are prepared to abuse their powers to avoid that scrutiny.  The only solution for this is to punish offenders severely enough that others learn their lesson.

I did searched for smartphone apps "specifically designed for recording police encounters." I found OpenWatch, "mobile technology to enable public monitoring of authority figures." But it doesn't stream in real time to the Internet. It seems like you could use Ustream, Qik, or's smartphone apps to do that.

Glenn Reynolds: "You have a right to record the police" (Via The Agitator)