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Right to record

Comment 6th July 2010

Fundamentally everything anyone sees or hears is admissible in court, by means of witness testimony. However, preventing recordings of what an individual sees or hears – be it photographic, audio or video, in complete contradiction, appears to be prohibited wherever those in authority feel like it, despite no dedicated laws existing to back their claims up.

Whilst the tradition in this country is for negative laws this is one case where a positive law is required. The right to record anything one can perceive in a public space is fundamental to a functioning democracy and the rule of law, as a recording carries much more weight than any individuals witness statement, regardless of that individuals position (The classic scenario here would be in regards to a policemans word versus a citizens word, but it also applies to criminals in general, especially violent relationships, verbal agreements with dodgy business men etc.). No amount of memos to the police will fix this, as there are many laws that can be twisted and distorted to cover any situation they please, and security guards will never get them anyway – someone has to stand up and say, explicitly, that recording is a right.

Why does this matter?

This idea is evidently a similar to many others submitted, but the focus here is on all forms of recording, where most of the others are concerned with photography alone. Audio recording is just as important, and indeed one should be able to use any passive device, however strange.

To deny recording is also to deny our history and our culture to future generations, both on the individual scale of having photographs of our children, up to the scale of protests and major historic events. This is highly destructive to society, which need to share if it is to remain cohesive, and needs to learn from histories mistakes and successes.


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