Secret recording of police protected by First Amendment

The First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals concurred with a lower court that a citizen has the right to secretly record police officers working in public spaces. The decision reaffirms the district court ruling that the Massachusetts wiretap law violated the First Amendment in outlawing such recording. (ACLU of Massachusetts, December 16, 2020, press release)

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed an amicus brief in the case arguing that the right to gather and publish news took precedence over privacy rights and that the public benefits when the press observes public servants performing their duties. The brief also noted that under certain conditions recording secretly could better serve the public. (Reporters Committee, October 4, 2020)

For related FAC coverage, click here, here and here.