Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sed quis custodiet ipsos cutodes

Or as Socrates said "Who will protect us against the protectors?"

A staff sergeant in the Maryland Air National Guard and a computer systems engineer thought his helmet video camera would. But after "he taped a Maryland state trooper who stopped him for speeding on I-95 using a camera mounted on his helmet [and then] posted the video on YouTube" he was arrested, charged with violating the state's wiretapping law, and jailed for 26 hours.

Many states have laws against 'wiretapping. In Florida, it a crime to intercept or record a "wire, oral, or electronic communication" unless all parties to the communication consent. But it is not a crime where "the parties do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the conversation."

In the Maryland case, the judge ruled "that police have no expectation of privacy in their public, on-the-job communications." He wrote "Those of us who are public officials and are entrusted with the power of the state are ultimately accountable to the public. When we exercise that power in public fora, we should not expect our actions to be shielded from public observation. 'Sed quis custodiet ipsos cutodes' ('Who watches the watchmen?')." Read the Washington Post, Charges dropped in cyclist, trooper taping.

It's open season on recording elected officials, at least in Maryland.