PRIVACY OF AUDIO OF 911 CALLS

By Bob Katzen

The House gave initial approval to legislation that would prohibit the release of the audio version of 911 calls to the public or media except when authorized by the caller; requested by law enforcement agencies for investigative purposes; or when a court order finds that the right of the public to the release of the recording outweighs the privacy interests of the individual who made the call. The measure does allow the release of a written transcript of the audio at any time.

“I am pleased that this proposal is moving forward. 911 calls are often among the most traumatic moments of an individual’s life and recordings of those calls shouldn’t be fodder for sensationalist journalism,” said sponsor Rep. Michael Day (D-Stoneham), House chair of the Committee on the Judiciary. “This bill would create a presumption of privacy of those recordings while still providing a public transcript of the calls and a process for releasing the recordings when the public interest outweighs individual privacy concerns.”

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