Thanks to David Brin for linking to this article in reason.com about the debate over arresting people for recording active duty police officers. In general the specific law being broken is about making audio recordings without the concent of all parties.
As a privacy advocate, I find this situation puts me in an uncomfortable situation. On the one hand there is concern about the privacy interests of the police officers. On the other hand, this is one of the only ways of demonstrating police abuse or other bad actions. It also acts to balance the playing field where the police are already routinely recording most interactions through the use of dashboard cameras.
The origin of the term surveilance is the latin from sur- "over" + veiller "to watch,". It implies that surveillance is about being watched by those in power (above).
Sousveillance is a term that has been coined recently to describe participant recording, or recording from "below". That feels like a very different thing that should be fine as long as it is not hidden. Especially in circumstances where there is not a clear expectation of privacy.
I guess my solution to the conundrum would be to state that there should be no expectation of privacy on the part of authorities from recording when they are exercising those authorities. The citizens being interacted with would have a possible privacy expectation with respect to recording third parties however.
I am very interested in feedback and other thoughts on this one.