The New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has released an Android app that surreptitiously records police stops and sends the videos to legal watchdogs for review.
The advent of Police Tape is designed to counter a practice an increasing number of civilians have encountered over the past few years: those who videotape or photograph police officers performing routine stops and other official acts are frequently arrested or disciplined. Evidently, many officers are all in favor of increased surveillance as long as it isn’t turned on them. Earlier this year, for instance, a Miami journalist covering a police effort to evict Occupy Miami protestors recovered video of officers arresting him after it was deleted from his camera.
Police Tape provides basic advice for people who are stopped by police officers. It also claims to provide controls for discreetly recording the video or audio of such stops. After it is activated, it disappears from the screen. The app will also upload the recording to ACLU-NJ so monitors there can review it for any civil liberties violations. «Once it has been uploaded, it’s saved on an external server, so police cannot permanently delete the file,» an accompanying video states. An app for Apple iOS devices is in the works, the ACLU says.
Depending on local laws and other specifics, recording video or audio without the knowledge or consent of people in the immediate vicinity may run afoul of the law. That means end users may want to seek legal advice before routinely using Police Tape. Then again, having the app installed and ready to go in an emergency may not be a bad idea, either.