California Court: Police Drone Footage From 911 Calls Is Not Exempt From Public Records Law

If you’re tired of censorship and dystopian threats against civil liberties, subscribe to Reclaim The Net. The California Court of Appeal for the 4th District has decided that video material from police drones, collected in response to 911 calls, cannot be hidden from the public in every case. The drones in question operate under a scheme known as, Drones as First Responders (DFR), pioneered by the Chula Vista Police Department, while the court was looking into a case brought by a journalist attempting to gain access to some of this video content as a public record. We obtained a copy of the decision for you here. The reporter, La Prensa’s Arturo Casta├▒ares, took legal action which led to a first-instance court ruling against him, and allowing the police department to keep all the material secret. The court’s reasoning was that video footage is not included in the California Public Records Act, which regulates the disclosure of investigatory records, writes the digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation, EFF. Clearly, things didn’t end there and now the court of appeals has ruled that there is in fact no categorical exemption of videos obtained from drones, when it comes to public disclosure. The ruling also went into the nature of 911 calls – some in fact pertain to criminal activity and are therefore a part of a police investigation – but not all, the court of appeals noted. One example cited in the judgment is a report about a dangerous wild animal in…California Court: Police Drone Footage From 911 Calls Is Not Exempt From Public Records Law