Is It Legal for Cops to View and Delete Your Cell-Phone Pictures and Video?

It's a modern-day dilemma: You're in the middle of a fracas. Cops show up. You whip out your cell phone. You hit record.

The cops -- worried that you might have caught them in unflattering actions, afraid you may have gotten their "bad side," or just under lots of pressure in a dangerous job, in the heat of the moment and suspicious of your defiant ass -- demand the phone.

What are your rights?

The ACLU has organized a panel called "Rights, Cameras, Action! The Rights of Citizens and the Press to Photograph and Record in Public," happening Saturday, January 25, at 1 p.m. at the Broward County West Regional Library, 8601 W. Broward Blvd., Plantation.

Says the ACLU: "With a panel of legal experts, activists, and law enforcement officials, we'll be tackling questions surrounding the rights of citizens to photograph and record police activity. In a year that saw multiple cases of illegal police activity, this discussion is an important one for educated citizens in our democracy."

Panel members include Ron Gunzburger, legal counsel for the Broward Sheriff's Office, and Carlos Miller, a photo rights activist who runs the blog Photography Is Not a Crime.

Miller says it's pretty clear the law is on your side:

It was only in May 2013 that the Florida Supreme Court ruled that police do not have the right to view the contents of a cell phone without a search warrant, not to mention the United States Department of Justice made it clear in 2012 that it is illegal for police officers to delete footage from the cameras of citizens.

Moderating the panel will be Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, one of the sponsors along with the Broward chapter of the ACLU and the SDX Foundation of the Society of Professional Journalists.

The event is free, but the ACLU asks interested parties RSVP to Brad Koogler at [email protected] or 954-588-8229.

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Deirdra Funcheon