Teen Arrested for Videotaping Police

An 18 year-old from Carlisle, Pennsylvania has been charged with a felony under Pennsylvania's wiretap statute -- for videotaping a police officer during a traffic stop.

Brian D. Kelly didn't think he was doing anything illegal when he used his videocamera to record a Carlisle police officer during a traffic stop. Making movies is one of his hobbies, he said, and the stop was just another interesting event to film. [...] Kelly, 18, of Carlisle, was arrested on a felony wiretapping charge, with a penalty of up to 7 years in state prison. [...] Kelly is charged under a state law that bars the intentional interception or recording of anyone's oral conversation without their consent.

One might think that the statute wouldn't apply to taping of public officials discharging their official duties in public places, but apparently that is not the case. Putting aside issues of whether civil liberties interests are best vindicated when there is rigorous oversight of those in power, this situation should provide a cautionary tale to video bloggers, podcasters and others who gather news by recording video and audio or just audio in Pennsylvania.


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The problem that I see with this is that unscrupulous police officers would take advantage of something like this.

One should be in able to record and videotape whatever event you want in your life: where is the right of free speech?

A. Matthews,
LA Nightlife Mag