I always found even the concept of cops having "bodycams" extremely scary and creepy, but having people watch it all live, as a freaking television show or "YouTube stream" or whatever, is even worse.

How can that be considered a good idea? Does anyone accused of any crime in the USA have zero right to privacy? I can think of a million situations where it's highly inappropriate to have cameras around at all, let alone making them into "live entertainment" content.

And what if it's a false alarm? I would be mentally scarred for life if I had a god damn TV team visit me at my door with a bunch of cops with bodycams who record my face and how I talk and act and have a ton of people watch that live and record and store it forever. You can't even use the (false) argument of "no expectation of privacy in public", since it's my own home and not even a public place. (But even if the same thing had happened in a public place, I would still be against it, whatever the law says.)

I'm always baffled by all those videos where nobody ever seems to even mention the cameras. It's almost as if somebody had gone there in private, prior to the cameras and cops, and given them money and/or had them sign some kind of waiver "out of their own free will" that says that they agree to be filmed and it's a show and blabla and they will act as if the cameras aren't there? Is that a thing? Is that the reason why nobody ever mentions the cameras of even looks at them?

Have people in general really become so used to total and constant surveillance that this is just not a "big deal" at all to them? Do they even like the cameras, thinking that they will be famous and rich and get tons of fan mail from beautiful women and stuff like that? But then, you'd think that they would look into the cameras and try to "put on a show", but that's also not the case.

I'm confused about how this can be both legal and socially accepted. Maybe people have a completely different view of privacy and being "captured" without your active consent.

  • As an aside, there are similar shows in the UK and occasionally a suspect will complain about the presence of the cameras. The cops will often say something along the lines of "anyone is allowed to record video in a public place" Commented May 7, 2020 at 9:29

1 Answer 1


TV shows like COPS will have the arrestees/suspects/bystanders/victims sign a waiver to appear on the show, along with anybody else that they film in the process, otherwise the faces will be blurred, or removed from the show entirely.

Additionally you can tell the camera crews that they are not allowed in your home. If they do enter your home without permission, you can sue them for trespassing.

It should be noted that those shows are often edited for drama, and as such seem much more dramatic than it is. The film crews may spend weeks or more (400 hours of video) just to get enough "good stuff" for a 22 minute episode, and then make it look like it all happens over the course of an evening.

As for the moral/social acceptance of a lack of privacy, that question really isn't on-topic here.

This should be the same for any other "COPS-like" TV/youtube show, but there are some shows out there that don't take the rules as seriously as others. Those usually operate under the "who we are filming probably can't afford a lawyer" mentality so they keep going until they get sued.

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