A federal judge ruled Monday that Americans have a right to secretly record their public officials, including police, when they are engaged in their government duties.
U.S. District Chief Judge Patti B. Saris said a Massachusetts law banning secret recordings violates the First Amendment when it comes to government employees, rejecting the state’s claims that officials need some space to be able to operate without having to worry about being monitored.
“This is not to say that police and government officials have no privacy interests,” she wrote. “However, the diminished privacy interests of government officials performing their duties in public must be balanced by the First Amendment interest in newsgathering and information-dissemination.”
She ruled in favor of two sets of plaintiffs, one of which regularly livestreamed video of police officers performing their duties, and the other James O’Keefe, whose Project Veritas specializes in catching public policy figures saying embarrassing things.
Mr. O’Keefe called the ruling groundbreaking.
“The impact of this win will ripple throughout the nation. It will set historical precedent and keep citizen journalism alive in all fifty states,” he said in an email to supporters touting the case — and asking for money, because he predicted Massachusetts would appeal the ruling.
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