Georgia State Senator Jeff Mullis has proposed a bill in the state legislature that would make it illegal to record anyone for any reason without their consent. The bill has been nicknamed the “Cagle Bill” after our former Lt. Governor and failed gubernatorial candidate Casey Cagle.
Cagle, for those of you unfamiliar with Georgia politics, was the presumed front runner whose campaign tanked after a former opponent recorded him admitting that he tanked legislation just to prevent a challenger from scoring a political win. Not coincidentally, Mullis wasted $10,000 in contributions on Cagle’s losing campaign. The other cosponsors of the legislation – Senators Larry Walker, Steve Gooch, John Wilkinson, Butch Miller, and Ellis Black – were also Cagle supporters. Apparently, they want to protect other politicians from falling vicitm to their own hubris and stupidity.
I know some whacky proposals come out of the state legislature, but this one is a whole special level of idiocy and retribution. I can’t think of one legitimate reason for this bill to pass. I can thing of a whole bunch of reasons it shouldn’t.
First of all is the namesake of the bill. If politicians are foolish enough to admit that they blocked a good piece of legislation just for political payback, we should all PRAY that someone gets that admission on tape. Don’t blame the guy with the cell phone on record for your own childish antics. I’m sure Mitt Romney and George Allen would be in favor of such a law, as would other politicians recorded saying something “politically incorrect.” But should private citizens want the law protecting THEM?
Second, imagine that you’re the victim of domestic violence or other threats. The police won’t help you without proof, so you try to record your assailant in the act. And now YOU’RE the one going to jail for recording him without his consent. Or you’re being harassed at work and need evidence for HR. You would be prohibited from recording that too.
If you record a police officer conducting an arrest, you would be breaking the law. If you record one of these ridiculous people shouting racist rants at Walmart, you’d be breaking the law. If you recorded someone committing a crime, you’d be in violation.
And what about home security? Would “nanny-cams” be illegal? What about my home security camera? If someone breaks into my house and my system records them, did I just break the law? Or those “Ring doorbell” cameras that people have been using to stop porch pirates? Could the Jehovah’s Witnesses knocking on my door have me prosecuted for recording them?
I understand why people don’t want to be recorded. But it’s usually because they’re doing something that they’re not supposed to. This law would protect the perpetrators at the expense of the victims. It’s misguided. It’s stupid. It’s vengeful. Kinda like the guy we’ve named it after.