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ACLU Releasing Smartphone App for Recording Police

This month the American Civil Liberties Union is set to release its new “Mobile Justice” smartphone app aimed at aiding citizens to record police and report purported misconduct.

The new app is being unveiled in up to ten states this month including Maryland, Virginia, Oregon, Mississippi, Nebraska, Missouri, and Washington D.C. The ACLU says the app is free and is joining similar apps already released in states such as New York and California.

As The Baltimore Sun reports, the app is connected to an ACLU database, and video will be uploaded directly to the ACLU upon filming. Even if the phone is destroyed or the video erased on the phone, the video will not be lost.

Thus far the app is available only for Android phones. A version for the iPhone will be available soon, the group says.

“Everyone has the right to film law enforcement, and (the app) provides clarity for citizens and law enforcement to make sure everyone’s rights are respected,” said Amy Miller, the ACLU’s legal director for Oregon.

The ACLU in California echoed that sentiment and noted that the goal was to “multiply” the possibility to capture misconduct of police.

“We want to multiply the number of cameras that can be trained on police officers at any time,” Hector Villagra, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California, told The L.A. Times. “They need to know that anything they do could be seen by the entire world.”

The idea, though, is raising questions about privacy concerns.

Laurie Levenson, a professor at Loyola Law School, said that it is possible that others caught on video might feel that their privacy is being violated when others are recording their interaction with police.

“Everyone wants to keep an eye on the police. But in these incidents, the police are interacting with an individual involved in the worst conduct of their lives,” Levenson said. “The ACLU needs to consider their privacy rights.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com

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