back to article Americans have the right to livestream police traffic stops … probably

The US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a North Carolina police department policy prohibiting the livestreaming of traffic stops is unconstitutional unless the department can support its claim that broadcasting endangers officers. In October, 2018, Dijon Sharpe was riding in the passenger seat of a car pulled …

  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    In next weeks news

    A Mr Sharpe was found shot 37 times through the door of his house in N Carolina, police have ruled it a suicide

  2. Potemkine! Silver badge

    So for Mr Dijon Sharpe, the ruling doesn't cut the mustard

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm sure he doesn't relish the idea of going back to the lower court either...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a tool for agitating a mob

    the internets are horrible, horrible thing, look at social media, how they agitate a mob, we must stop the internets NOW!!! :)

  4. stiine Silver badge

    The EFF is nearly wrong..

    Qualified Immunity should never be granted, at all, ever. In fact, some jurisdictions are reigning it in, in a major way.

    1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: The EFF is nearly wrong..

      "Qualified Immunity should never be granted, at all, ever."

      You will have a hard time convincing a judge of that. Otherwise they could be personally sued over every conviction....

      1. Insert sadsack pun here Silver badge

        Re: The EFF is nearly wrong..

        First off, judges don't get qualified immunity.

        Second, qualified immunity doesn't merely mean that employees can't be sued for their employer's mistakes or even the worker's own mistakes. No-one is suggesting that Johnny at the hardware store should be personally sued because he delivered the wrong paint.

        Qualified immunity means that certain government officers can't be sued for personally and directly violating your rights except in narrow circumstances.

        Meanwhile, if you punch someone in the face at work (or, less dramatically, crash your work van into someone's car), you and your employer can be sued.

        1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

          Re: The EFF is nearly wrong..

          Good link.

          "While judges, prosecutors, legislators, and some other government officials do not receive qualified immunity, most are protected by other immunity doctrines."

          I think "other immunity doctrines" covers my basic point: Judges are likely to be sympathetic to qualified immunity. Personally I feel qualified immunity is double-edged. It's practically necessary for carrying out the role, but once granted it can be used as a carte blanche for wrongdoing. There have to be other avenues for redressing the wrongs short of eliminating all qualified immunity, since that won't be workable.

      2. Martin-73 Silver badge

        Re: The EFF is nearly wrong..

        And if they got it wrong, why shouldn't they be?

      3. Matthew "The Worst Writer on the Internet" Saroff

        Re: The EFF is nearly wrong..

        Actually, that one is wrong. There is a separate legal concept that prevents liability attaching to a judge's ruling.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: The EFF is nearly wrong..

      QI is important in some circumstances. It applies to firefighters, for example, who otherwise would almost certainly be routinely sued by insurance companies looking to defray their own costs for property and medical insurance. That's a rational, if unethical, move by insurers; without QI, first responders would have to carry malpractice insurance as US doctors do, and then we'd just have dueling insurance companies tying up courts and arbitration processes and wasting money with inefficiencies.

      But it has been interpreted far too broadly by the courts, up to and definitely including SCOTUS.

  5. NoneSuch Silver badge

    Recording on a phone is easy for the cops. They have laws to demand your PIN and you have to provide it or be jailed. Then your beating footage mysteriously gets deleted from your phone and you end up in the pokey unable to prove you fell down the stairs three times.

    1. chris street

      This is why you livestream it. The thugs in uniform in Bigotsville, Iowa for example will find it tricky to delete the footage that people saved in a dozen places across the lower 48....

    2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

      "you end up in the pokey unable to prove you fell up the stairs three times."


    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      They have laws to demand your PIN and you have to provide it or be jailed.

      Depends on the jurisdiction. In some states, you can be compelled to unlock a device using biometrics (which is an excellent reason not to enable them), but not to supply a PIN or password, thanks to the Fifth Amendment. Courts in Pennsylvania, Vermont, Indiana, and other states have granted protection to PINs; but others in New Jersey, Florida, Wisconsin, and, um, Pennsylvania have rejected it. (Come on, Pennsylvania – get it together.)

      This needs to be settled by SCOTUS, but given the current makeup of that bench it's really hard to guess how they'd go. I mean, Alito thinks the police should be able to do whatever they want, and Thomas thinks we should get rid of pesky civil rights altogether1, so they're easy to handicap; and I don't see Sotomeyer, Kagan, or Jackson having much trouble with a broad interpretation of the 5th. But the other four can be unpredictable.

      1Except for Loving of course, because he personally relies on it.

  6. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I think that some cops forget that they are there to serve the public, and if they were doing their job correctly as though they were being recorded all the time then people would not feel it necessary to have to live stream a routine stop for fear of getting beaten up.

    1. Lennart Sorensen

      It does seem a lot of the police believe the oath means "to server and protect the police" rather than "to serve and protect the public".

  7. Greg 38

    The police should never need to hide from the light of scrutiny. However, if a 3rd party bystander live streams or records/edits a police encounter, it could violate the privacy of the person being arrested or anyone else at the scene. It could also bias a potential future jury. This is not a clear cut issue.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      There's no assumption of privacy for a traffic stop or arrest on a public roadway.

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