OTI Joins Broad Coalition of Civil Rights and Privacy Advocates on Body Worn Camera Principles

Press Release
May 15, 2015

On Friday, New America’s Open Technology Institute, along with 35 other privacy and civil rights organizations and advocates, released Civil Rights Principles on Body Worn Cameras. To help ensure that cameras are used in a way that enhances civil rights while preserving civil liberties, the principles would require law enforcement agencies implementing cameras to, among other things:

1. Develop camera policies in public.

2. Commit to a set of narrow and well-defined purposes for cameras.

3. Specify clear operational policies for recording, retention, and access.

4. Make footage available to promote accountability.

5. Preserve the independent evidentiary value of officer reports.

The Principles were spearheaded by the Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights. Other signatories include American Civil Liberties Union, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Center for Democracy & Technology, Center for Media Justice, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Free Press, Hip Hop Caucus, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, NAACP, National Council of La Raza, National Hispanic Media Coalition, National Urban League, and Public Knowledge.

A copy of the complete Principles can be found here.

The following can be attributed to Laura Moy, Senior Policy Counsel of New America’s Open Technology Institute:

“More and more agencies are adopting mobile cameras as one way to improve law enforcement transparency and accountability. Cameras have great potential to enhance civil rights, but without appropriate safeguards, their widespread use could also infringe civil liberties or establish systematic surveillance of public spaces. We need these Principles to ensure that cameras are used in a way that preserves key public values including privacy, security, access, and unhindered First Amendment speech and association. We are very pleased to contribute to the dialogue through these Principles, which we hope will spur further discussion of appropriate protections for the public, and help guide adoption of mobile cameras by additional agencies moving forward.”

The following can be attributed to Seeta Peña Gangadharan, Senior Research Fellow of New America’s Open Technology Institute:

“Body worn cameras mark a new era of technologized policing. Their arrival raises many questions about their efficacy in rebuilding trust in police-community interactions. With proper guidance, however, these tools can augment broader efforts to increase accountability and public safety. These Principles provide clear standards for law enforcement in their pursuit of fairness, transparency, and justice.”

Photo courtesy of flickr user diversey licensed under CC-BY-2.0.