The main concern dealt with a Washington state law that prohibits recording conversations in a private residence without permission, expect for emergency responders. Whether or not body-worn cameras used by police officers fall into that realm has yet to be decided, so the SPD elected to wait until the state attorney general’s office offers up an opinion.
SPD vehicles actually already have in-car cameras installed, which are exempt from state privacy laws. Originally, the plan was to have traffic stop officers start using silent audio from the in-car cameras and match that footage with video from the Vievu cameras to avoid any privacy issues.
But as Crosscut notes, once the SPD wanted to test the cameras with officers dealing with 911 calls, the city attorney recommended the delay until further opinion from the state.
Video surveillance and privacy have also been a hot topic for the past few years, with the advent of gadgets like Google Glass and people like the Creepy Cameraman. Vievu founder Steve Ward told us last year that his company isn’t focused on masked surveillance, but rather about accountability for police officers.
“We don’t make cameras that are inconspicuous and our cameras are easily seen,” Ward said in September. “As a company suggestion, we advise all of our customers to announce to people that they are being recorded.”