Police taping, with a HIPAA twist

by Walter Olson on January 10, 2013

When Andrew Henderson videotaped police frisking a man about to be transported by ambulance in suburban Minneapolis-St. Paul, an officer confiscated his handheld videocamera, allegedly for evidence: “If I end up on YouTube, I’m gonna be upset.” Later, when Henderson sought to get his camera back, the sheriff’s office refused and instead charged him with misdemeanors. Among the notes on the citation: “Data privacy HIPAA violation.” A Stanford law professor says it would be nonsense to regard HIPAA, the federal health privacy law, as constraining the activity of bystanders like Henderson who are not legally defined as health providers. [St. Paul Pioneer Press]


1 KDP 01.10.13 at 12:43 pm

I’ve been following this at a photography / 1st Amendment interest site. The general opinion is that many of these type stories of law enforcement are either ignorant of established cases concerning recording in public or are just stupid, vindictive thugs who make up the law as they go along.

I believe that the latter applies in this case. HIPPA has absolutely no bearing on the charges brought against the defendant. A LEO with more than thirty years experience should know better.

2 ParatrooperJJ 01.10.13 at 1:29 pm

Any HIPPA violation would be a federal problem not a state one anyways.

3 Supremecourtjester 01.10.13 at 3:26 pm

There is no state court jurisdiction over HIPAA violations. Criminal prosecutions must be in the federal courts.

4 Ron Miller 01.10.13 at 3:58 pm

I agree although I think some states have laws that mirror or are even stronger than HIPAA. Be that as it may, the officer’s contention is silly and this will all get worked out with charges getting dropped, apologies, and whatnot.

5 boblipton 01.10.13 at 11:06 pm

Ron, wouldn’t it be better if the police did pull this s**t in the first place? Then there wouldn’t have to be idiotic publicity, a struggle involving time and expense and no fear that the cops were out of control?


6 Bob Neal 01.11.13 at 10:43 am

and what about the liberty interest here? There is no accountability to the police – this is getting worse in this country, not better.

7 Ron Miller 01.11.13 at 11:40 am

boblipton, I’m heavily pro police. But I agree with you 100% on this one.

8 Richard Nieporent 01.11.13 at 12:16 pm

Incidents like this will not stop until the police are held civilly and or criminally liable for violating the rights of the public. If the police officer really doesn’t know the law then he should be fired for incompetence. If he deliberately violates the law he should be held criminally liable. Unfortunately the best that will happen will be that Mr. Henderson wins a lawsuit against the police department and it is the taxpayers who have to pay the damage award.

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