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WI Bill Allowing Police to Access Library Surveillance Tapes Passes

Senate Bill 214, which allows law enforcement officials to have access to library surveillance video tapes without having to first obtain a court order, passed both houses of the Legislature yesterday with no opposition. The bill was supported by the Wisconsin Library Association.

According to a press release by State Senator Michael Ellis:

The legislation follows an incident earlier this year at the Neenah Public Library when a patron was observed committing a lewd act. Although the library has a video surveillance system, police were unable to review the tapes before getting a court order because of a legal opinion that the tapes are library records and are covered under privacy laws that pertain to libraries.

"This legislation removes an unnecessary impediment to law enforcement while still preserving privacy interests of library patrons," [Representative Dean] Kaufert said. "The bill was narrowly drafted to limit unrestricted access only to the tapes that directly pertain to the suspected criminal activity."

For the complete bill text, amendments, and history, see the Wisconsin Legislature web site.

Source: The Wheeler Report