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Siri Modification Raises Question of When You Can Legally Record Police


It seems like every day technology is interacting with the law. One of the biggest contributions technology has made to the field of protecting citizens from police misconduct is the ability to record immediately, on the go. In fact, many police departments are equipping their officers with small, portable body cameras.

Siri Modifications

A recent article discusses a modification to the iPhone’s Siri feature. Siri has been built into iPhones for many years now, and like many devices nowadays, can accept and understand verbal commands from the user.

One iPhone owner recently modified Siri, giving it an ability to record any interaction the user may have with law enforcement. All the user has to say is “Siri, I’m getting pulled over.” On that command Siri turns down the brightness of the phone, stops any sound that was playing, and sends an automatic message to a contact that the user has pre-selected. The user can then press the record button to begin recording the contact with the police. The recording is sent to the chosen contact when the video is stopped.

There are other apps that also allow for this kind of automation, including one that was created by the ACLU. But this is the first modification to Apple’s own software, and would avoid the user having to open a separate app.

The Legality of Recording

Many officers may not be aware that citizens are legally permitted to record any police interaction, so long as they are respectful, not interfering in the officers’ duties, and are legally allowed to be wherever they are recording. Officers may not insist that you delete video, and cannot take or search your phone absent a warrant.

You can and in many cases should record openly. Although laws prohibiting the secret recording of police have been stricken down in many states, it is still best practice not to conceal the fact you are recording an encounter.

Many officers may claim that recording is illegal, or that it is illegal if you are not a journalist or reporter. This is false; the ability to record police stems from the first amendment of the constitution, and thus, is a right that all people have.

In many cases, you may be recording a police interaction that you are not directly involved in—for example, recording the police arresting someone else. Police do have a right to make sure that your recording is not interfering with their work. They often use this right to push those who are recording far enough away that they cannot record. The distance that constitutes interfering with the police’s work is of course a case-by-case analysis.

In any situation where police try to stop you from recording any type of encounter, the best advice is to keep your composure, and remain polite. If the video ever becomes evidence in a police brutality or misconduct case, you do not want to be the one who comes off seeming hostile.

Understand your rights when you interact with law enforcement. Contact the Alabama police misconduct attorneys at Lasseter Law Firm today to discuss whether you have a cause of action for damages.


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