S2E5 - Put Down That Scanner: Encrypted Police Communications and Civil Liberties

Fri, 09/03/2021


Across the country law enforcement units are encrypting their communications, barring the general population and journalists alike from following police radio channels. Weighing concerns with privacy and officer safety with citizen watchdog oversight and freedom of the press is an extremely complex policy issue. On this episode we get into why that may matter with an introduction from Danielle Conrad, Executive Director of the ACLU of Nebraska and an in-depth dive into the issue with Mailyn Fidler, an expert on constitutional rights and intellectual property who recently authored a piece about the growing use of encrypted communication by local police departments, who will discuss with us some of the potential issues that covert police communication presents.

Encryption: the process of encoding information by converting the original representation of the information into an alternative form known as ciphertext that only those with the key to that text can access.

FOIA Request: a request for information from the government using the Freedom of Information Act 


Episode Notes

Episode Review (3-5 minute read)

Encryption of police radio poses dilemma for local governments, journalists

Trend toward local police radio encryption grows, as does resistance

Measures to Address Law Enforcement Accountability

Colorado House adds radio encryption provision to law enforcement reform bill

Could Omaha Police scanners go silent to the listening public?

Encrypted Police Scanners Are Gaining Popularity Among Law Enforcement. What Does That Mean for Us?


Outline of Nebraska Public Records Statutes

Privacy and Technology (ACLU)

Tags: Center Fellows, Main Series