When Cameras Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Cameras!

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by Mark Nestmann: What
Your PC Knows About You

If you witness
police misconduct and record it as a video on your phone or camera,
you won’t be welcomed as a hero. In several U.S. states, you could
be subject to a long prison sentence.

In recent years,
dozens of videos documenting police misconduct have been posted
on YouTube. But prosecutors haven’t generally punished the offending
cops. Increasingly, they’re arresting the individuals who posted
the videos.

The charge?
Illegal wiretapping. Yes, wiretapping – what the NSA does with
impunity and without a warrant is illegal for us to do when we witness
police abuse.

At least two
states – Massachusetts and Illinois – make it illegal
to record any on-duty police officer in any situation. It doesn’t
matter if the officer is in the process of beating someone to death.
It doesn’t matter if the recording is in your own home, and the
police have just busted down your door in an illegal search. If
you record the interaction, you can go to prison.

In ten other
states, "all parties" must consent in order for a private
person to make a recording of a conversation or personal encounter.
Since a police officer acting abusively isn’t likely to give you
permission to record the event, if you do so, you could be violating
the wiretap statute – and be subject to a long prison sentence.

In Illinois,
for instance, a street artist recorded his own arrest for selling
artwork without a peddler’s license. He now faces up to 15 years
in prison.

Arresting police
whistleblowers is a nationwide trend. And the courts approve. For
instance, the Massachusetts Supreme Court upheld the conviction
of a man arrested for recording a police encounter. Defendant Michael
Hyde used the recording to file a harassment complaint against police.
Instead, he was convicted of illegal wiretapping. While he was sentenced
to only six months of probation, he could have faced a much longer
prison term.

Cameras, in
effect, are like guns. Point a gun at a police officer and you’ll
be arrested. Point a camera at a police officer and you’ll be charged – and
likely convicted – of illegal wiretapping.

The fact that
wiretapping laws are being used against private citizens is richly
ironic, because they were enacted to protect citizens against government
oppression. These cases turn that notion on its head because those
trying to protect themselves or others from official misconduct
ends up being prosecuted.

Since we’re
living in a surveillance society where the government continuously
monitors our finances, our communications, and our movements, shouldn’t
we have the right to turn the tables and, in effect, "watch
the watchers?" Yes, but police and the courts disagree.

September
15, 2010

Mark Nestmann is a journalist with more than 20
years of investigative experience and is a charter member of The
Sovereign Society's Council of Experts. He has authored over a dozen
books and many additional reports on wealth preservation, privacy
and offshore investing. Mark serves as president of his own international
consulting firm, The Nestmann Group, Ltd. The Nestmann Group provides
international wealth preservation services for high-net worth individuals.
Mark is an Associate Member of the American Bar Association (member
of subcommittee on Foreign Activities of U.S. Taxpayers, Committee
on Taxation) and member of the Society of Professional Journalists.
In 2005, he was awarded a Masters of Laws (LL.M) degree in international
tax law at the Vienna (Austria) University of Economics and Business
Administration.

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