Police Body Worn Cameras and Privacy: Retaining Benefits While Reducing Public Concerns

By: Richard Lin

Recent high-profile incidents of police misconduct have led to calls for increased police accountability. One proposed reform is to equip police officers with body worn cameras, which provide more reliable evidence than eyewitness accounts. However, such cameras may pose privacy concerns for individuals who are recorded, as the footage may fall under open records statutes that would require the footage to be released upon request. Furthermore, storage of video data is costly, and redaction of video for release is time-consuming. While exempting all body camera video from release would take care of privacy issues, it would also prevent the public from using body camera footage to uncover misconduct. Agencies and lawmakers can address privacy problems successfully by using data management techniques to identify and preserve critical video evidence, and allowing non-critical video to be deleted under data-retention policies. Furthermore, software redaction may be used to produce releasable video that does not threaten the privacy of recorded individuals.

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Cite: 14 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 346

Riley v. California and the Stickiness Principle

By: Steven I. Friedland

In Fourth Amendment decisions, different concepts, facts and assumptions about reality are often tethered together by vocabulary and fact, creating a ‘Stickiness Principle.’ In particular, form and function historically were considered indistinguishable, not as separate factors. For example, “containers” carried things, “watches” told time, and “phones” were used to make voice calls. Advancing technology, though, began to fracture this identity and the broader Stickiness Principle.

In June 2014, Riley v. California and its companion case, United States v. Wurie, offered the Supreme Court an opportunity to begin untethering form and function and dismantling the Stickiness Principle. Riley presented the question of whether cell phone searches incident to a lawful arrest were constitutional. The Court, which had clung to pre-digital concepts such as physical trespass well into the twenty-first century, appeared ready to explore how technology is reshaping historically understood conceptions of privacy. From a broader perspective, the case offers an initial step in reconciling pre-digital rules based on outdated spatial conceptions of physical things with the changing realities of a technology driven world.

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Cite: 14 Duke L. &