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filming in public is a human right

France has been trying to outlaw the filming of police officers working, ever since the police were caught on cell phone video abusing people during the yellow jackets protests. Additionally, since the invention of cameras, France has been an unusual country in that you actually have to ask permission of someone, even in public, before you can photograph (or film) them. You can get in trouble for disregarding someone’s wishes.

Well, obviously, to anyone with eyes to see (and perhaps a camera to film), using cameras in public is a right and not a privilege. You can film whoever you want, whenever, no exception. We all know this. Just the French government lost the memo.

So in light of the immaturity and rampant corruption of the French Police, I want to encourage you to blatantly defy the law. If you are dealing with police, pull out your phone and start recording them.

I have done this several times, and each time the french police told me to stop filming. To which I responded a calm “no”. Then one of the following happened:

  • My phone was violently seized, then turned off (twice)
  • They relented and continued the conversation, filming continued (once)
  • The police became very angry, raised voices, and demanded I delete the videos, but didn’t touch me (three times)
  • Nothing, they didn’t care (twice)
  • Nothing, he didn’t notice (once)
  • The misbehaving cop suddenly “snapped” into a professional demeanor, instantly dropping all flamboyant immaturity (once)

None of the times I have been stopped, have I ever been in trouble, despite my blatant defiance. So I just want to ask you, if you are filming police, what could they possibly do? Punish you? For what, exactly? Exposing them doing wrong, affirming them doing right? There are only benefits to filming, no harm.

If they retaliate illegally or unprofessionally, you have irrefutable evidence of it on tape. If they make up claims against you, you can deny it with proof. There is nothing they can do. Even if you are punished, the penalty will be a small fine, and you will be a martyr (do write a letter to me, a human rights org, and your representative if this happens).

It’s too embarrassing for them to do anything. You will be fine. So shake the status quo. Rid French of this oppressive law. Film anytime, anywhere.

I want to leave you with a little “how to” film and prevent someone from forcing you to delete the video. This works on iphones.

  1. Start filming.
  2. While you’re filming, hold the phone in such a way that your fingers stay rested on (but not pressing) the power button and a volume button.
  3. If anyone tries to snatch the phone, instantly press those two buttons and hold them. You can yank the phone behind your back, or down, or anywhere. You just need to buy yourself one single second for this to work. Push and hold those buttons. To be safe, don’t release the buttons, just keep them pressed. Eventually you’ll hear an alarm beep and vibration, then you can release them knowing confidently you have entered the SOS screen.
  4. The video you were recording has terminated and saved automatically. It’s now *impossible* for the police to delete it, even with forensic tools. The video is now safe. The only way to access it is by unlocking the phone with a code.