Privacy and civil rights groups outline regulations for police body cameras

May 18, 2015 - 

A coalition of over 30 privacy and civil rights organizations, including the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union, have released a list of recommended regulations for the use of police body cameras in the U.S., according to a report by the International Business Times.

The new guidelines follow several incidents throughout the U.S. in which police body cameras failed to show what occurred during a shooting involving a police officer.

The coalition offered five primary guidelines that encourage law enforcement to not use the body cameras as a surveillance tool.

The guidelines require police departments to develop policies for body cameras with input from the public, to specify clearly defined purposes for their use, to create specific policies for the recording and retention of footage, to make the footage publicly available with privacy safeguards, and to prevent police officers from viewing the footage before filing reports.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the National Urban League and many other organizations also signed the list of recommendations.

A full list of the recommendations and signatories can be viewed on the official Civil Rights website.

The coalition’s guidelines take into account the concerns of anti-police brutality activists who are calling on police departments to develop policies to ensure the majority of interactions with the public are recorded and making the footage available upon public request, as well as reducing the use of facial recognition and other biometric technologies when reviewing the footage.

“It’s appropriate to be suspicious of how this footage gets used or misused,” said coalition spokesperson Scott Simpson. “That suspicion is healthy. Whether you trust the police department to manage these policies, the who rather than the how, that’s another issue.”

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.