Interesting story from the San Diego CityBeat. It seems Breitbart-backed conservative prankster James O’Keefe is working with a high profile law firm to change the law that prohibits Californians from recording private conversations without each others’ consent.
CityBeat has more:
In 2009, O’Keefe made national headlines when he and a female cohort posed as a pimp and prostitute and visited offices of the nonprofit group ACORN around the country. Using a hidden camera, they captured footage that made it seem like ACORN workers were collaborating in human trafficking. California Attorney General Jerry Brown granted O’Keefe immunity from the state’s privacy laws in exchange for the chance to review the footage.
Brown’s investigation found that Juan Carlos Vera, a National City ACORN employee fired after the tapes aired, did nothing wrong and that the video had been edited to distort what happened. In July, Vera filed a $75,000 lawsuit against O’Keefe under the Invasion of Privacy Act, which requires all parties in a confidential conversation to consent to a recording.
The Washington, D.C.-based Center for Individual Rights is defending O’Keefe in several lawsuits. In California, CIR General Counsel Michael Rosman is prepared to argue that the law infringes on the press’ freedom to gather information. He adds that the law doesn’t prevent anyone from talking or writing about confidential conversations, so it really only serves to shield liars.
CityBeat reporter Dave Maass spoke to a representative of the ACLU, who doesn’t see O’Keefe’s legal argument working: “The First Amendment protects the right to record events in public but does not authorize invasion of legally protected privacy rights…. Both free press and privacy rights are constitutionally protected and must be balanced. Occasionally, the right to privacy prevails.”