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15 Years in Prison For Taping the Cops? How Eavesdropping Laws Are Taking Away Our Best Defense Against Police Brutality

More and more people use their smartphones to record police misconduct. But laws against wiretapping are being used to intimidate and stop them.

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Schwartz also emphasized that resolving disputing testimonies with citizen recording, while important, is not the only benefit to overturning the eavesdropping law:

"If police officers are doing their jobs in public places, for example policing a demonstration and something goes awry, it is very valuable for there to be a strong record, including audio of what happened, so that if there is a need to change the rules, the public can go to the government and say "look what happened, change the rules about how police officers are enforcing the peace at a political demonstration."

The court's decision in this case is said to be critically important in setting a precedent "that will either protect or endanger newsgatherers‘ constitutional rights to monitor and record police misconduct." Schwartz said the ACLU is "cautiously optimistic" about the eventual ruling, which is expected to be handed down sometime in 2012.

 

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been corrected since its original publication for more accurate attribution to original sources.

Rania Khalek is a progressive activist. Check out her blog  Missing Pieces  or follow her on Twitter  @Rania_ak. You can contact her at  raniakhalek@gmail.com.