Friday, February 22, 2013

Controversy over citizen photography of police activity continues in MD

Television station WJLA (ABC affiliate) reports that a  police officer in Montgomery County MD, detained a man from Rockville, MD, Jared Parr, for videotaping police activity with motorists.  The story by Hatzel Vela follows.

Parr runs a YouTube channel called “Rockville cop watch”, link.
But Montgomery County Police later told the ABC affiliate that the police officer was wrong.  In 2010, a Maryland judge had ruled that state privacy laws allow videotaping and audiorecording in any area where privacy cannot be expected.

Generally, civil liberties groups have been vocal about the right to videotape police, because of the possibility of abuses, as with Rodney King and the LAPD in 1991.  I would not photograph routine police activity personally unless I saw abuse.

The right to photograph would appear to be the case inside bars and discos, unless property owners have a policy otherwise.  But patrons in the past two years have become more sensitive about the issue than they used to be, probably because of stories of tagging and misuse of photos, which could even create employment problems.  The Saint “Black Party” in NUC actually requires patrons to turn in cell phones. 

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