A Quick Lesson In Wiretapping (Video)
Post date: Sep 21, 2010 2:48:46 PM
For starters, when it comes to wiretapping laws there are essentially two different types of states: one-party consent states and two-party consent states. In a one-party consent state, you only need the consent of a single party to a private conversation to tape said conversation. This realistically means that if you are having a conversation and you want to tape it, then you can because you are a party giving consent. If the data I have is correct, 38 of the 50 states follow the one-party consent rule.
When it comes to the two-party (or "all party") consent states, the law is also fairly self-explanatory. If you are in one of these states -- or carrying on a conversation with someone in one of these states (the law is somewhat unsetttled on this issue) -- you cannot record the conversation without the consent of all parties involved. Essentially meaning that you cannot record without telling the other person and them agreeing to the recording. The following states are two-party consent states: California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington.
The wiretapping laws have been put in use recently in order to prevent citizens from videotaping police officers in public. Police officers and prosecutors have construed the law as forbidding the recording of police officers because they have not given their consent. The Cato Institute produced a video showing the recent legal battles involving police recording, which can be found at the link below. Although it is an eight minute video (not all eight minutes deal with wiretapping laws), I highly recommend giving it a look as it is very interesting and it is narrated by various attorneys explaining the legal perspective in each situation.