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RALEIGH – A bill that would allow law enforcement agencies to shield officer worn body camera footage from public view unless ordered to release the footage by a court was approved by a North Carolina House committee today. HB 972 was approved by the House Judiciary II Committee and sent to the House Finance Committee. If it is approved by the second committee, the bill could be sent to the House floor for a vote.  

Under HB 972, body camera and dash camera footage would not be a public record. Law enforcement agencies would have the discretion to release footage to people who are recorded, but if the agency denies a request to release the footage, the recorded individual would have to bring a claim in court to attempt to obtain the footage. There would be no mechanism for law enforcement to release videos of public interest to the general public other than through a court order.

Dozens of law enforcement agencies in North Carolina are using or have plans to acquire police body cameras, but many lack policies that allow public access to the recordings.

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RALEIGH – The University of North Carolina system today announced that it has chosen to follow House Bill 2, a sweeping anti-LGBT law that would prevent transgender students, employees, and visitors from using the restrooms that correspond to their gender identity.

In response, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina, Lambda Legal, and Equality NC released the following joint statement:

“It’s incredibly disappointing that the University of North Carolina has concluded it is required to follow this discriminatory measure at the expense of the privacy, safety, and wellbeing of its students and employees, particularly those who are transgender. By requiring people to use restrooms that do not correspond to their gender identity, this policy not only endangers and discriminates against transgender people – it also violates federal law.”

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By Mike Meno, ACLU-NC Communications Director

Early results of a new law that allows North Carolina to drug test people who apply for Work First, a program that provides temporary assistance to needy families, confirm what the ACLU-NC and others argued at the time of the bill’s passage: it is a wasteful and unnecessary government invasion of vulnerable people’s privacy.

The law was originally passed in 2013, over the veto of Gov. Pat McCrory, who called the measure “a recipe for government overreach and unnecessary government intrusion” that “is not a smart way to combat drug abuse.”

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North Carolina Appeals Court Strikes Blow to Privacy Rights

Posted on in Privacy

Earlier this year, the ACLU of North Carolina submitted a brief in the case of Paul Perry, who was arrested and charged with drug trafficking after police tracked his location in real time through cell phone data provided by AT&T. The location data allowed police to track him to a hotel in Raleigh, and even to figure out which part of the hotel he was in. Police did not apply for or receive a search warrant in Perry’s case. 

In our brief, we argued that the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures means that any time police seek to use cell phone location data to locate a person, law enforcement should first obtain a warrant showing probable cause of criminal activity. That position is supported by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which has jurisdiction over North Carolina and ruled in April in United States v. Graham that the government should obtain a search warrant “when it obtains and inspects a cell phone user’s historical [cell-site location information] for an extended period of time.”

But earlier this week the North Carolina Court of Appeals rejected the Fourth Circuit’s logic when, in a blow to privacy rights for all North Carolinians, the court ruled that police did not violate the Fourth Amendment when they searched Perry’s cell phone location records without a warrant.

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