Posting a video to track down attackers—good idea or no?
December 4, 2010 1:22 PM   Subscribe

Question about posting a video of an attack on a bus driver in the hope that viewers might be able to identify the attackers.

A couple of months ago, the driver of a bus I was on was attacked by two men. The attackers yelled and insulted the driver, before trying to drag him out of the bus while hitting him and ripping his shirt. In addition, the two attackers were threatening to a female passenger who was just trying to exit the bus.

The attackers ran off before the police arrived.
The video I captured on a phone was provided to the police, but the attackers were never found.

I am wondering the legality of posting this video online, after somehow blurring out the image of the innocent driver and passenger. (I don't yet know how to apply a blur to just a specific moving part of the video, but reason it must be do-able with some Mac app).

My question is, assuming I can blur out the driver and passenger, should I do this?

Would posting this video along with some "Help capture these attackers" post on Reddit open me up to any legal issues?
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (4 answers total)
I can't answer whether it would open you up to any legal issues, but there was a high profile case in Chicago that was solved as a result of the victim's family posting video of the killer.
posted by slmorri at 1:52 PM on December 4, 2010

No expectations of privacy on public transit. Post it freely. (I don't know the Mac way to blur the faces or pixelate them, but it shouldn't be too hard.)
posted by Ideefixe at 2:42 PM on December 4, 2010

No expectations of privacy on public transit. Post it freely.

This just means there are no issues with regards to privacy.

I'm NOT A LAWYER, but it seems to me that you're leaving yourself open to liability with regard to incitement to violence if a non-policeperson tries to apprehend one of these attackers and something violent goes down. That probably goes double if the attacker in question is a member of a visible minority and the person who tries to apprehend them turns out to belong to a known hate group or something.

Or supposing there's someone who's not one of the attackers but is their identical twin or otherwise the spitting image of them to the level of fidelity available to a phone-captured video, even if nothing violent happens to them, there could be potential liability for harassment.
posted by juv3nal at 6:29 PM on December 4, 2010

No expectations of privacy on public transit. Post it freely.

It's not necessarily that simple. Assuming the OP is in the US, some states have used two-party consent wiretapping laws to arrest people making cellphone video-recordings (specifically the audio recording function). See this article on Massachusetts. Now as far as I know the arrests have only occurred when people have recorded police activities and I suspect the police themselves wouldn't care in a situation like this. But it seems possible that were someone charged with a crime based on a cellphone recording in a state like Mass, they might try to use those same wiretapping laws to have the evidence dismissed and possibly even attempt to have the recorder themself prosecuted (or at least hit with a civil suit). Unlikely, sure, but it's at least something to be aware of.
posted by 6550 at 7:28 AM on December 5, 2010

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