In December of 2018, Project Veritas won a significant court battle in Massachusetts. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 272, § 99 (“Section 99”) placed a chilling effect on first amendment rights. Veritas challenged it and won. So, why are they back in court today?
The battle began two years ago, when PVA filed a federal lawsuit alleging the Massachusetts law prohibiting secret recordings of public officials and citizens was unconstitutional. Today, 39 states allow filming without both parties consenting. Massachusetts is one of eleven states that restrict undercover journalists from recording without consent.
Even with PVA’s initial victory, the case is not yet over. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has appealed the court’s ruling that resulted in PVA’s initial victory.
The court said it did not have enough information to rule on the constitutionality of secretly recording private citizens. So PVA appealed.
Veritas will be before a Federal Judge today to make their case. A case that could have nationwide implications. The idea that the absence of any expectation of privacy (in public places) should prohibit states from making laws that prohibit such recording.
If you are not an idiot you already know or suspect that any moment when you are out in public, someone is recording something, including you. We are big brother. Most people have phones and instant access to the world through the internet. We are all reporters, stringers, even spies. It’s a massive self-embraced surveillance state with a few exceptions.
Exceptions that should never exclude public officials in public places being recorded doing their work. As to everyone else, our opinions will differ but how does the state enforce such limitations equally? I don’t think it can.