Get out the vehicle, hippy!
October 23, 2011 8:32 PM   Subscribe

How can I outfit my car with an automatic recording device to protect myself and my passengers from crime and civil rights violations?

Inspired by this comment, I got to thinking what it would take to automatically start voice recording in the event of an emergency. I imagine it would require some sort of satellite up-link which could then be routed to a computer at a trusted friends home. Can a cell phone call a computer that would automatically record the transmission? A cassette recorder on the front seat would be too vulnerable. The microphone would either have to be well-hidden or perhaps fitted with some sort of dead-man switch that indicates that the transmission was interrupted. Video would nice, but not essential.
posted by ambulocetus to Law & Government (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
For something quite simple to set up, how about a cellphone (maybe with an external mic) and a voicemail box? Hit speed dial on the phone and a recording starts. I'd be surprised if anything satellite-based would be feasible from a cost perspective (but then, I'm not you...).
posted by pompomtom at 9:04 PM on October 23, 2011

Maybe Google Voice? It has a max voicemail length of 3 minutes.

Also, there's OpenWatch.
posted by cellojoe at 9:30 PM on October 23, 2011

If you're recording in mono and saving as an MP3, you can probably squeeze about 3 months worth of audio onto a good sized SD card.

How much protection an audio recording would be is questionable since it is not particularly hard to fake, especially in this day and age.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:07 PM on October 23, 2011

I use dailyroads on my android phone plus an exomount as a traffic cam. It records continuously and automated when tapped or when a predefined g-force is met (wreck.) will sync to their server, dropbox / other options are planned.
posted by TomMelee at 5:50 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

IANAL My mobile phone has a video camera, as well as a voice recorder, and I pretty much always have it with me. Please do check the legality. The police are more likely to be legally able to search your vehicle if they can see contraband, or indicators of illegal activity, so keep the car tidy, and don't keep a bong on the dashboard. Keep the car's inspection and registration up to date, too. McVeigh got stopped for not using a license plate, if I recall correctly.

Some cops can be real jerks, others are not, so know your rights, but also be very calm and friendly; these are people doing a job that goes from boring routine to terrifyingly dangerous in moments.
posted by theora55 at 7:06 AM on October 24, 2011

I think the best way to go about this would be to have some device recording all the time so that you don't have to do anything at all to trigger it. You only need a few hours' capacity and can just have the new stuff overwrite the old stuff, because most of what you record will be of no interest whatsoever. But after something interesting has happened, yoink and replace the storage medium and you now have a record of the leadup, the incident and the consequences.

A quick look at DailyRoads says it works exactly that way, so it's probably a good place to start.
posted by flabdablet at 10:04 AM on October 24, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks folks, some good food for thought. DailyRoads sounds intriguing, but will have to wait until finances improve. For now I'm going see what I can cobble together from stuff I have on hand (or at least put it on my list of things to do).
posted by ambulocetus at 3:39 PM on October 24, 2011

You should be aware that many states interpret their wiretapping laws to prohibit secret taping of police. This may be unconstitutional but you should think carefully about whether you want to test that theory personally.
posted by ewiar at 10:41 PM on October 24, 2011

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