From TIME, a look at efforts by police departments to arrest and prosecute civilians with videocameras. The operative ‘graff:
The legal argument prosecutors rely on in police video cases is thin. They say the audio aspect of the videos violates wiretap laws because, in some states, both parties to a conversation must consent to having a private conversation recorded. The hole in their argument is the word “private.” A police officer arresting or questioning someone on a highway or street is not having a private conversation. He is engaging in a public act.
Damn straight. Police started using dashboard cameras fifteen years or so ago in an effort to back up their own stories about the crazy things civilians do during traffic stops; they relied on the same argument, that someone driving on a public road has no expectation of privacy. But this is one game the Constitution says both police and civilians can play.
Put another way: freedom of the press belongs to the owner of the press. A camera and the internet are the press. Police have no special privileges against press coverage — at least, not in a democracy. To arrest someone for videotaping you in a public place while you do the public’s business? That’s fascism. Not tea party imaginary fascism, but actual, real, dictionary-definition fascism.