Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cameras, Police, and Privacy

There are actually a couple issues in this article, the first, which is only briefly mentioned is about an "eye-sore" ordnance that likely more than a few counties in this country have.

Michael Allison fixes up cars. He doesn't own an actual auto-shop, he fixes them in his driveway, or in the driveway of his mom just one county away. Both counties have the aforementioned ordnance, which extends to cars. Under the law, Michael has to either fix the cars in an enclosed garage, which isn't an option for Michael due to his property size and his income, or pay to have the vehicle properly licensed and registered with the state, also not an option due to his income.

Now, it seems to me that a car which someone is actively working on, shouldn't be classified as an eye-sore. It's being fixed, and therefore isn't a permanent fixture, so something like that should get a pass, provided you can prove you're actually fixing it. It also occurs to me that someone should be able to place whatever they want to own their own property provided it isn't causing harm to someone else. That someone doesn't like the look of something isn't actually harming them, and if it is, that person really needs to step back and rethink their life.

The second issue addressed is the recording of police officers while on duty. Most courts, (with sane judges) find that a police officer, while out in public (ie, not in his car) they have no reason to expect any kind of privacy in performing their job where other people can see them. Since a patrol car is in effect the officer's office, they do have a right to privacy in there. The main problem is that the laws governing recordings were made well before people could conceive of things like cameras on a cellphone, or even cellphones, for that matter. And despite numerous cases where this is causing problems, the legislative branch of the government has done nothing to try and rectify the situation. As a result, Michael Allison could face up to 60 years in prison for doing something almost every law abiding citizen would say isn't against the law.

One of my main problems with this whole issue is this: When you decide to serve in the military, you basically are choosing to give up some of your rights under the constitution in order to help protect your country's citizens. Or at least, that's the impression I got from some of the recruiters I've talked to, as well as some of my friends who have served. Why isn't this the same for police officers and judges? These are public officials, and when the course of their job takes them into the public, they should have no expectation that their fourth amendment right to privacy should be in effect.

Furthermore, the first ten amendments of the constitution of the united states is there to protect the citizens from government corruption. Included in these rights is freedom of press, the right to report on events without fear of retribution from the government.

What it comes down to though, is the legislators need to address this issue, and sooner, rather than later, because the way things are proceeding we're on a dangerous road of the government trying to take away the rights of its citizens.

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