Protesters in France are staging weekly nationwide demonstrations against a new security bill. The protests have been mostly peaceful, though there have been violent clashes with police over the proposed law. The bill, if passed, would make it an offence to post images of on-duty police officers with the intent to harm their “physical or psychological integrity”.

Critics of the bill say it would make it more difficult to document incidents of police brutality. In November, four French police officers were charged over the racial abuse and beating of a black music producer that was caught on video. Protesters believe it will damage press freedom and make it more difficult to hold the police to account if the rules around filming officers are unclear or too zealously enforced.

Supporters of the bill, however, argue that police officers are at risk of harassment, threats and even violence if their identities are published online. In 2016, a police officer and his partner were stabbed to death in front of their three-year-old child by a man claiming allegiance to Islamic State. The attacker had compiled a list of potential targets, including police as well as journalists and celebrities.

Responding to the protests, the French government has announced it will rewrite part of the bill. However, protesters want the entire security bill scrapped and have vowed to continue their demonstrations.

Should filming police officers be illegal? How can citizens and the media hold police to account if they can’t film them? Does publishing the identities of police put them in danger? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

Photo by ev on Unsplash

65 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar

    If you want to live in a totalitarian state.

  2. avatar

    No. There are pictures and videos cut and taken out of contexts, in order to mislead, but that’s another discussion.

    • avatar

      it is another discussion

  3. avatar

    The police is a state service for us, paid from our taxes and therefore we have the right to film them doing their work. Police is not an instrument for people’s opression, as some politician believe

  4. avatar

    Certainly not. Police as public servants should act in a transparent way and if they act within the law, they don’t need to be worried when filmed. In the very few occasions where the police officers should not be identified for their safety and the safety of their families (special antiterrorist task forces etc) the policemen are anyhow wearing face masks and even if filmed, they can’t be identified. So, there is absolutely no reason to be illegal to film police.

  5. avatar

    Filming them is the only way people in security structures really answer to the public. It is a step towards accepting them act outside the low.

  6. avatar

    Are we living in some kind of Junta or what?

  7. avatar

    Filming police-officers shouln’t be illegal at all. However, publishing the footage should serve a purpose. The public interest should exceed the privacy of the police officer(s). So filming and publishing police brutality, Yes! Publishing a ‘funny’movie of a police officer tripping over a banana, No!

  8. avatar

    Absolutely no. The oposide. Every action, every communication of police should be transparent and allowed to be made public. For the sake of the police.

    • avatar

      HJo, there is the other side though… They are workers like you and me… I agree that it should not be forbidden, but the same way that your boss is not allowed to record you, the police should be forced to be recorded all the time

    • avatar

      Luis, If somebody in my office started beating up the customers and no one knew who it was, you’d better believe my boss would start recording us.

  9. avatar

    Most people today has the phone and can film in any situation, the problem is the distribution in social medias that can put in danger policeman and his family live

    • avatar

      si il ne cachaient pas leur numéro RIO, on n’aurait pas besoin de filmer leurs visages.. Pour être allé voir qqs manif par curiosité, j’ai vu de mes yeux qu’ils cachaient ou n’avaient pas leurs numéros RIO…

  10. avatar

    This is absurd. Police is paid from people’s taxes and shall be accountable. People shall be able to film policemen at any time, shall have control over their duties.

    • avatar
      Jan-Marten Spit

      In principle, yes i agree.

      What about a criminal gang that seeks to identify policemen through filming with the intent to, say, threaten their families.

      So, no, not all filming of the police should be legal.

  11. avatar

    Illegal? It should be mandatory

  12. avatar

    As they always tell citizens: What do they worry about if they have nothing to hide?

    • avatar

      Au contraire, mon fraire

  13. avatar

    Why? What have they got to hide?

    • avatar
      Jan-Marten Spit

      If you share your full name with all of us here, i will provide the obvious answer to your question.

      Unless you have something to hide of course.

  14. avatar

    They serve the society and while being on duty, their work is no different from anything that is completely open or public (or at least it should be) they should have nothing to hide, so no, it should not be illegal.

  15. avatar

    No, not at all, on the contrary forbidding filming the police actions it’s foolish smells Fascism and it’s an invention to for abuse of power

  16. avatar

    no it should not be illegal. In the cases where identities of the officers need to be concealed while on duty for their protection they should wear masks(as they do already in most countries). In all cases however there must be an independent observers(in person or as video) that ensure the interactions of the unit comply with the corresponding laws. Even in the case where officers need to conceal their identity to the public, they should not be allowed to do that to the law.

    • avatar

      Yes, and they should always have numbers visible so that they can be identified in the event of an investigation.

  17. avatar

    No if they can film us we should be able to film them unless you want another gestapo

    • avatar

      why do you think filming police officers should be illegal?

  18. avatar

    exactly many hide their numbers or don’t wear them at all

  19. avatar

    Then the law should be that police officers’ faces must be blurred before videos are published to anonymize them. If only their numbers are visible, then they can only be identified by a judge, if needed.

  20. avatar

    No, if they do nothing wrong they shouldn’t care.

  21. avatar
    catherine benning

    Should filming police officers be illegal?

    Why? What possible reason could there be for ‘not’ filming them should they be doing their job as they should?

    • avatar
      Jan-Marten Spit

      Filming them only to establish identity – even if they operate to enforce or within the limits of the law. That should be made illegal, not ‘filming the police’ in general.

      Police officers should be able to perform their jobs without fear for themselves or their families.

  22. avatar
    Jan-Marten Spit

    “Should filming police officers be illegal?”


    As an employer of the police, the citizenry is allowed to film them as long as the police is on duty.

    I do understand that this can, and thus will be misused. But the disease of ‘making things illegal for all because it is misused by some’ needs to be halted in its tracks as soon as possible. Society is not to be run like a zoo.

    If someone films a police officer with the sole intent to identify him or her, make that illegal. If a police officer that engages in unlawful actions, film it and present it to the police. Or the public if there is no reaction.

  23. avatar

    Illigegal for a priori legal actions? Never

  24. avatar

    In public you cant expect privacy. Public servents should be under scrutiny at any time

  25. avatar

    No. It’s the only defence one has.

  26. avatar

    If he is handsome, then it shouldn’t be illegal.

  27. avatar

    NEVER!! This is how police behaviour is in check. In romania 2 men who were abused by police and filed complaines were found dead

  28. avatar

    Incredibly stupid question ! It isn t even a debate!!

  29. avatar

    It should if the intention is to insult, atack or hinder the police work and image which its what happens most of the time. If the intention its to solely for media, documentation, education etc than yes, obviously, its not even a question

  30. avatar

    Filming police officers should be mandatory.

  31. avatar

    This shouldn’t even be a question. I’d put cameras on each of them which live stream all the time, so anyone can hear and see what they do while on duty, in-office officers ip to highest ranks included.

  32. avatar

    No. Police officers that because of their duties need to be protected (counter terrorism units etc) wear masks, so they are not recognizable anyhow. The rest of the police should be accountable for their action as any other professional, so filming them during their duties should be legal, especially if they are engaged in an illegal activity.

  33. avatar

    Law enforcement nust have nothing to hide

  34. avatar

    Filming shouldn’t be illegal but editing and disseminating it should be. Use of the material should be left to the courts.

  35. avatar

    This is why here in Finland the police also will have bodycameras to counter film clips, that do not tell the whole truth, so yes, film away, but be prepared to be filmed also. It works both ways and this is how it should be. Disregarding counterterrorist officers and special ops. so that no threaths will reach their families. And targeting is a problem everywhere.

  36. avatar

    Never! Intervention in citizens shall not be subject of abuses against them. And if citizens are “accused” with unlawful acts or speech then they shall have the right to witness it. So NO! Filming the intervention of public security workers on public territory shall not be restricted!

  37. avatar

    Yeah, of course it should be illegal, like the CCTV is illegal for public as well. If you have this kind of debate in European Parliament, I wonder what kind of fucked up people are being paid for scratching their butts over there. Everything should be transparent, that’s why it is called democracy, we have to make sure that they are doing their job properly as they work for us, that’s why they are being paid from the taxes of underpaid people, not the other way around.

  38. avatar

    Mm for me police behaviour and which laws are enforced seems to depend a lot on who is in power. So they are mostly just following orders, and if they act with impunity, it means the system allows them to act with impunity. In other words, good police behaviour should be built in the system, with a good police culture, education and internal checks and balances. Cameras won’t fix anything and should be used as last resort. This said the French idea to make filming police illegal is a step that will likely allow more impunity, not less.

  39. avatar

    I’d rather all police officers have body cams and all encounters be recorded. The more evidence and transparency the better – much, much better than the inevitable “he said, she said” when hard evidence is lacking.

  40. avatar

    It should not be a question. Police is serving at the end people to protect the order. I think people should be able to film. Of course editing these recording up to “fake news” shall result super strict punishment.

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