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Bill Aims To Protect Privacy Of 911 Callers In Tennessee

March 25, 2011 by  

Bill Aims To Protect Privacy Of 911 Callers In TennesseeTennessee lawmakers have introduced a bill that is intended to protect the safety and privacy of residents who call 911.

The legislation, if approved, would require outside parties to receive a court order or written permission from callers before emergency organizations can release tapes of the calls, according to The Tennessean. Supporters of the measure said that the law will prevent media outlets from rebroadcasting 911 recordings that could potentially embarrass or upset the callers.

"If it's a situation where a person wants to keep it private, we need to keep it private," said State Senator Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville), quoted by the media outlet.

Opponents of the bill argue that the measure will make it harder to detect mistakes and misconduct in response to emergencies. Frank Gibson, executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, told the news source that there needs to be public oversight of these critical services.

Meanwhile, phone privacy is at the center of a Federal lawsuit that was reinstated by a Federal court of appeals on March 21. The legal challenge, which had been thrown out by a Federal district judge in 2009, disputes the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was passed by former President George W. Bush in 2008.

According to The New York Times, the measure legalizes wiretapping of certain terror suspects without a warrant and provides immunity to telephone companies that cooperate with the program. Civil rights groups and media organizations claim that the law is illegal because it allows government officials to listen to the calls of Americans who are not engaged in criminal activity. 

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  • Robin from Arcadia, IN

    The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act should be repealed. Something like this always starts out sounding like a good plan, but in the end it will be abused. It needs to be stopped now.

    • independant thinker

      What that act did was make public something that has been going on since at least Kennedy and quite possibly longer. I am neither condemming or condoning it but mearly stating that Bush did not start it he made it public or official.

  • Russ

    Mr. Gibson needs to be reminded that the news agency’s are not experts on 911 calls. The radio room has trained supervisors, and the police agency involved if called out has supervisors also. Letting the public know is not going to change anything. If it is of importance the court can decide to make the call “public” if not it is no ones business but the person who is calling for help. Mr. Gibson should start with the cheese burger in the W/H and see where he gets there ” transparency” remember go get it from the one who said it. But its easier to pick on the poor and those that really need help. All police agency’s have always been able to place wire tapes after a judge has okay-ed warrant, the FISA should be looked at very carefully, maybe Mr. Gibson could help.

  • Mac

    This is an excellent piece of legislation. Releasing 911 calls should indeed be prohibited without a warrant, or at least written permission of the party making the call. Far too many TV stations have gone overboard in broadcasting these recordings purely for the sensational aspects of the calls. The FISA should also be repealed.

    • particlewoman

      I agree! I’ve never felt comfortable listening to these calls when they’re replayed on the radio or on TV. They are a private matter and should be kept that way.

  • usmadgirl

    I’m glad my state is doing something to right some of the wrongs. Since we exchanged a Dumbocrap for a Republican governor (even though I think he’s a RINO & NOT my choice) he’s better than what we had.

    We also passed the “Healthcare Freedom Act”.

    Not bad for starters!


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