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"Wiretapping" Charges May Be Oddest Ever Recorded 439

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the tap-into-the-future dept.
netbuzz writes "Guy kicks up a fuss at a Massachusetts car-repair shop, employees call the police, guy allegedly gives them a hard time, too, and they charge the fellow with a variety of expectable charges: disorderly conduct, resisting arrest ... and 'unlawful wiretapping and possessing a device for wiretapping.' The device? A digital voice recorder. Massachusetts is one of only 12 states that prohibit the recording of a conversation unless all parties to it are aware it's being recorded."
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'Wiretapping' Charges May Be Oddest Ever Recorded

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  • !wiretap (Score:4, Insightful)

    by VisiX (765225) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @10:56AM (#29378707)

    Why can't the legal system use common sense. Simply recording something is not the same as a wiretap. A wiretap implies access to conversations through some sort of technological loophole or exploit and is usually long term. If this is to be illegal then the law should refer to unlawful recording without consent.

    IMHO, it doesn't make sense that it can be illegal to record a conversation that you are part of since you have been explicitly granted access to the information (the guy is F@#$ing talking to you).

  • Odious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by harvey the nerd (582806) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @10:59AM (#29378757)
    Having such a recorder might be potentially important for memory impaired people on details and for the strong oral promises of con artists later denied.
  • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @11:05AM (#29378823) Homepage Journal

    Does anyone have a good reason for such a law, other than to protect important people

    Yes. [wikipedia.org] The sword cuts both ways.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 10, 2009 @11:06AM (#29378841)

    If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.

  • Re:!wiretap (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @11:07AM (#29378857)

    Why can't the legal system use common sense.

    Because it's controlled by lawyers, politicians, and the wealthy. Common sense, from a common citizen's perspective, will never be an emergent property from such a system.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @11:18AM (#29379031) Journal
    The solution to this, your eminence, is to make fewer things that everyone does illegal, not to ban writing.
  • Re:Lie to me! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JCSoRocks (1142053) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @11:22AM (#29379073)

    However, I'll bet that the wiretapping charge doesn't stick. These days the cops make all sorts of spurious charges and the DA plea bargains the charges down. I'll bet he pays a few huundred bucks fine for a misdemeanor.

    This is true, however, this is also the reason you don't piss off cops. Don't let them violate your rights, sure, but don't be a jerk. They will instantly acquire an almost da Vinci-like creativity for inventing reasons you've broken the law. It's not worth the hassle.

  • Re:Lie to me! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rary (566291) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @11:22AM (#29379077)

    I find it interesting that a website filled with people who are normally outraged at the idea of video surveillance in a public place with everyone's knowledge is so accepting of the idea of audio surveillance in a public place without everyone's knowledge.

    Personally, I'm on the fence on this. I don't like the idea of people recording me (audio or video) without my knowledge or consent, because as a general rule I don't trust people. However, I'm not sure I want a law to prevent it.

  • Re:Lie to me! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dog-Cow (21281) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @11:29AM (#29379151)

    Most of us don't care about private people recording people in public. I see people with video cameras and such all the time.

    What we don't appreciate is someone with armed forces and the "Law" at their disposal doing the same thing.

  • Re:Lie to me! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@NoSPAm.gmail.com> on Thursday September 10, 2009 @11:36AM (#29379247) Homepage
    There is no other reason I can't record a conversation in a public place except that the politicians don't want their lies revealed.

    Uhh...huh? That's the ONLY reason you can think of? Absolutely nothing to do with privacy?
  • by Shakrai (717556) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @11:40AM (#29379299) Journal

    How does a Federal special prosecutor give immunity against State charges? I assume you are familiar with the 10th amendment and the concept of separation of powers?

  • Re:Lie to me! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stanislav_J (947290) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @11:51AM (#29379457)

    This is true, however, this is also the reason you don't piss off cops. Don't let them violate your rights, sure, but don't be a jerk. They will instantly acquire an almost da Vinci-like creativity for inventing reasons you've broken the law.

    They don't need to "invent" anything. Why do you think all jurisdictions have those "catch-all" laws on the books, like "disorderly conduct" or "creating a disturbance" or "being a public nuisance." These laws are deliberately vague so that if you act like a dick when the cop stops you, he's got plenty of leeway to charge you with something.

  • Re:Lie to me! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sancho (17056) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @11:51AM (#29379459) Homepage

    Moreover, it's illegal to cover your face for the purpose of disguising or hiding your identity in many places.

  • Re:!wiretap (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) * on Thursday September 10, 2009 @11:57AM (#29379567) Journal

    So I can say to you "I'm recording this conversation," and you can say, "no, I don't consent, turn off the recorder," and it's irrelevant. I can keep recording and I can use the recording in any way I see fit. Your consent is immaterial.

    If I inform you that I am recording your speech, and you choose to keep talking, then you have consented.

  • Re:Odious (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DavidTC (10147) <slas45dxsvadiv.vadiv@NoSpam.neverbox.com> on Thursday September 10, 2009 @12:02PM (#29379635) Homepage

    Actually, if they don't like it, they can fucking leave. You don't need consent in any state, it's just in some that you have to inform them.

    They want you to turn it off, you can tell them to get bent and keep recording.

  • Re:Lie to me! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday September 10, 2009 @12:07PM (#29379699) Homepage Journal

    You want privacy in public. This does not exist, and should not exist. (Anonymity, so long as it is not abused, is another thing, and a separate conversation.)

  • by camperdave (969942) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @12:19PM (#29379827) Journal
    How did you get from wire-tapping to video surveillance?

    I'd be more worried about a digital recorder being classified as a wire-tapping device. What does that mean for students who record lectures? For that matter, I have a digital camera on my desk that can record audio. Does this mean I can't bring it to Boston this weekend? What about cell phones, laptops, PDAs,watches [spytechs.com]? It used to be that recording devices were rare. Without turning my head I can see four computers, each with an audio in jack, each capable of recording a phone conversation
  • Re:Street Cred (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Marcika (1003625) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @12:35PM (#29379993)

    When a cop is called to a dispute or fight, not always but often, s/he will ask each participant a few pointed, even brusque questions. [...] If you're stupid enough to react to a cop aggressively rather than addressing any wrongs later through the courts or a police complaints board then you're likely gonna get charges laid against you that otherwise might be let go.

    Yes, but this is the point - you will always be less credible than a cop before a court, if word stands against word. So if they prohibit your recording of all the insults the cop hurled at you (just because he can), you have no realistic chance of redress later through the courts (whether you became aggressive or not).

  • Re:Lie to me! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Maximum Prophet (716608) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @12:37PM (#29380009)

    Maybe it's time to make the state pay for your defense when you're aquitted?

    Great idea, one that I'd like to see, but the law of unintended consequences will rear it's ugly head. If the state, i.e. taxpayers, have to pay for state mistakes, Judges and Juries will be even less likely to acquit. Would you rather have a few more innocent people go to jail, so that some people will be compensated for being wrongly accused?

  • Re:Lie to me! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @12:40PM (#29380029) Journal

    That's just because you don't want to go to jail for flashing your boobs in front of a London or New York City camera. ;-) Me I think the cameras are fine (an electronic cop enforcing the law is no different than a human cop enforcing the law), but the laws should be changed. Women should be free to flash their boobs whereever they want. ;-)

    And yes if you drive 65 in a 55 zone and the electronic cops catches you, then you should be ticketed. I'm sorry but the law is the law. If you don't like it, rather than not enforce it, change it to something better (like no speed limits in rural areas - I could get behind that).

  • by Alaren (682568) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @12:43PM (#29380073)

    I assume you are familiar with the 10th amendment and the concept of separation of powers?

    This is not a safe assumption. One of the few things all three branches of the federal government happily agree on: the 9th and 10th Amendments do not mean what they say. See also: the nationalized health-care debate.

  • Re:Lie to me! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Khashishi (775369) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @01:07PM (#29380277) Journal

    Yeah, you should never plea guilty to something you didn't commit.

  • Re:What, no link? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pixelpusher220 (529617) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @01:49PM (#29380719)
    perhaps, but if it was 'accidentally' destroyed in the struggle to arrest you, it's a much greyer area me thinks. We're not talking about goody twoshoe cops here.

    All I'm saying is there are laws and there is the reality on the street when stuff goes down. They don't match up 1:1.
  • Re:Lie to me! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sumdumass (711423) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @02:05PM (#29380885) Journal

    I think your missing the point. The real officer wouldn't have cited him in the first place. The electronic cop makes him go to court to contest a witness that he can't even confront, and your answer is to gather enough money up to sue the city for harassment from an electronics policeman who you still can not confront.

    Yea, he has options, more so if he was rich. Right and wrong are often obvious yet they do not apply evenly to everyone. This unevenness gets more skewed the further apart the income scale goes.

  • Re:Lie to me! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BobMcD (601576) on Thursday September 10, 2009 @02:57PM (#29381537)

    From what I read, he wasn't 'mad' as much as he was absolutely pissed off and belligerent. Which does tend to get you arrested, even when you are responding reasonably.

    If you're interested in the facts, the whole affair is fairly well documented on the web. Especially pertinent, I think is the report from the second officer to arrive on the scene. You know, the black cop who hadn't been getting yelled at for the last several minutes...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 10, 2009 @05:52PM (#29383417)
    Actually, it's not the federal government's fault, it's those who have elected them, and have jumped up and down screaming "but why doesn't the federal government step in and do {education|health|internal state commerce|disaster relieve|etc}". Civics should be a mandatory class for all High School seniors and then again for all College seniors. A passing grade in should be required for graduation or for any GED.
  • Re:What, no link? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 10, 2009 @06:26PM (#29383811)

    Because divorce proceedings are always rosy and it is always the man who is the bad one

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito

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