German Police Can Seize Your Phone and Arrest You If You Film Them

Via Udo Vetter's excellent lawblog, this police report (g) from Bamberg, Germany:

Early Saturday morning, a person on the Schönleinplatz was halted by police for a check. The 29-year-old student refuse to tell police his personal information and began filming the policeman. He was informed that this was not allowed and constitutes a criminal offense, but the man nevertheless continued. 

As his mobile telephone was being seized, the man resisted officers and was arrested.

He has been charged with resistance against peace officers.

Vetter believes the charges should be dropped, since the police officer's claim that filming him was illegal was incorrect, and citizens are permitted to resist illegal police actions. However, the comments reflect a wide variety of views about whether filming the cop was in fact legal or not, and if not, whether it could be a criminal or civil offense.

The upshot: if you attempt to record police officers in Germany, they may seize your phone and arrest you, and you will only find out your actions were justified after a long and expensive legal proceeding. This is practically the definition of 'chilling effect'.

It's long past time for Germany to pass a law making it absolutely clear that any citizen has the right to film and broadcast any police officer in the performance of his or her duties, no matter what, under any circumstances, as long as the filming does not interfere with performance of the officers' duties.

2 thoughts on “German Police Can Seize Your Phone and Arrest You If You Film Them

  1. Agree in principle, though I believe cops’ faces should be pixelated before vids are disseminated.

    Somewbat related, here is a German police vid, from last year:

    Where in the U.S. would police passively record video from inside their station while out front, masked thugs are setting alight patrol cars? In Austin TX maybe?

    No way! Not even in the People’s Republic of Berkeley.

    Modern Germany is like the station house in Assault on Precinct 13, under attack by cruel, remorseless people, complete with traitors on the inside. (Yes, some German cops are Green voters and routinely rat out their co-workers for politically incorrect remarks; if you see one with an ear-ring and longish hair, chances are that he is one.)


  2. Uuuuh, those evil ear-ringed traitors with long hair! So it’s not only all Muslims who are your enemy now, but also policemen with the wrong haircut? Where did I experience that one before? Back in the Nineties in the “nationally freed zones”…


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