WASHINGTON, D.C. — WTOP reported Tuesday that District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser wants Freedom of Information Act exemptions extended to include footage taken from body cameras worn by city police. Bowser, who introduced the FOIA language in her budget bill, says the exemption would protect the privacy of city residents who interact with local police officers.
“[Bowser] says the government doesn’t have the resources or staff to look at every hour of footage picked up by body cameras, redact personal information and release it to the general public. And she doesn’t want the program to become swamped by “voluminous” public information requests.
Bowser says citizens have a right to privacy in those citizen-police interactions.
“So what we have to figure out is how we can have information available to the public, but also protect the privacy of individuals,” she says.” – WTOP, April 14, 2015
However, WTOP reports that some people are concerned about how a blanket exemption would affect transparency. Yet, does the public’s desire for greater transparency outweigh an individual’s right to privacy?
“Legislators in at least 15 states have introduced similar bills exempting the videos from public records laws. But advocates for open government say such bills would undermine the ability of the cameras to serve as a tool to hold police accountable for their actions.” – WTOP, April 14, 2015