New Hampshire Police Charge Man With 'Wiretapping' Because He Made A Phone Call During Traffic Stop

from the you-can't-be-serious dept

We've covered the disturbing trend of police, prosecutors and the courts to abuse wiretapping laws to charge people with "wiretapping" for recording police in public. The latest such case is even more ridiculous than most. Found via Slashdot, it involves a guy charged with wiretapping the police during a routine traffic stop, because he made a phone call, to which a voicemail system recorded the call at the other end. The guy who was arrested, William Alleman, had just left a gathering of libertarians, meeting in support of an arrest of a local restaurant owner. The police were apparently waiting outside, and Alleman claims he was followed. As he got pulled over, he called the phone number of an answering service for Libertarian activists who are "in trouble with the police" and then used that to record the call. The police claim this was illegal wiretapping.

This is, of course, patently ridiculous. Recording a police officer as he has stopped you is not and should never be considered a crime. The police in Weare New Hampshire should be ashamed of themselves for flagrantly abusing the law to intimidate people from exercising their own rights. All the more reason for laws like the one proposed in Connecticut that would punish police for preventing people from recording their interactions with the police in public.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 6:27am

    It's horribly ironic. :/

     

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  2.  
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    Joe Publius, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 7:45am

    Another great "who watches the watchers" moment. I respect what the police have to do, but that doesn't mean that they should ever be above scrutiny, especially from the people they are charged with helping.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 7:48am

    Reading the story, it sounds like the guy sort of set it up, in an attempt to entrap the police. He comes off as a tin foil hatter, worried that the police were "waiting for him"

    Sounds like the story is very incomplete at this point.

     

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  4.  
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    Thomas (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 7:57am

    Very important..

    that you not be allowed to record (video or audio) what happens during a traffic stop; the police do not want a recording of any kind if they decide you are a jerk and drag you out of the car and beat you with steel batons.

    The police often feel they have every right to beat you or arrest you if they feel you are not properly subservient.

    And the police still wonder why people do not trust them and do not want to help them.

     

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  5.  
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    John Doe, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 7:58am

    The police record you with both video and audio...

    The police record you with both video and audio so turnabout is fair play.

     

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  6.  
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    WysiWyg (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 8:01am

    You'd think that the whole "prepared to record the conversation"-thing would give the police reason to suspect that perhaps, just perhaps, this isn't some pushover?

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 8:17am

    Also there is the story of the woman who put a nanycam on her daughters teddy bear and was fined 120.000 dollars along with her father.

    The judge even acknowledge that even though she was trying to prove child abuse on the part of the father the law was clear and it is the responsibility of congress to sort this out.

     

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  8.  
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    mike allen (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 8:18am

    it is certainly not illegal and for a wire tap charge to stick surely the er suspect would have to have hacked the police phones or radio and that was not done.IMO

     

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  9.  
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    Pixelation, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 8:24am

    Re: The police record you with both video and audio...

    I guess we get to bring charges of wiretapping against them.

     

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  10.  
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    Dead Julius, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 8:40am

    his blog is here. It should also be pointed out that the recording incident occurred in July 2010. Last month, Bill made a video recording of a NH State government hearing on making it explicitly legal to record public officials in the performance of their duties. It was only after this hearing, and after Bill released the video he made of it, that he was finally arrested.

    The Weare, NH police department is corrupt... so corrupt, in fact, that its boss made some baseless accusations of child pornography against one of political enemies, forcing the accused to ask the local DA to clear him (and he was indeed cleared!).

     

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  11.  
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    theangryintern (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 8:48am

    So wait....were the libertarians meeting to give support to the guy who was arrested, or supporting the fact that he was arrested? The wording in the article makes that fact somewhat unclear. To me it sounds like they supported the police arresting the person, so why would the police be waiting outside and following this guy?

     

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  12.  
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    Comboman (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 8:53am

    Re:

    But they WERE waiting for him. Sometimes even paranoids have real enemies.

     

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  13.  
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    Casper, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 8:55am

    Re:

    He comes off as a tin foil hatter, worried that the police were "waiting for him"

    Just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean someone isn't out to get you. The ironic part about this is if they HADN'T arrested him, HADN'T charged him with wiretapping, and HADN'T done it right after the meeting, he would just be a crazy nut. Now he is a crazy nut who was right, which makes him less crazy by default and the basics of scientific deduction.

    Police should be considered public officials and traffic stops should be public meetings, that way this nonsense becomes a non-issue. It's pretty obvious that if the police officer can record the conversation as a public meeting so can the driver.

     

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  14.  
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    Dan, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 8:56am

    Live Free or Die

    What happened to NH's motto? Live Free or Die

     

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  15.  
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    CommonSense (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 9:14am

    Re: Live Free or Die

    As one who was born and raised in New Hampshire, I find myself thinking the same thing right now. I hope the values of that motto haven't fallen like the Old Man in the Mountain...

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 9:14am

    A better tactic would've been to simply behave properly, so the recording would reflect well on the police. Suing people for recording an arrest gives people the impression (rightly or wrongly) of corrupt police trying to cover up their misdeeds.

     

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  17.  
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    Sean T Henry (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 9:19am

    Re: Re: The police record you with both video and audio...

    Actually yes.
    See http://www.rcfp.org/taping/quick.html for information on if you can record a conversation. The federal law says that you must have the consent of one member of the conversation but if the state law is stronger then it is what is enforced.

    New Hampshire you need consent of all parties and if not then: "However, it is only a misdemeanor if a party to a communication, or anyone who has the consent of only one of the parties, intercepts a telecommunication or oral communication. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann § 570-A:2-I. Misdemeanors are punishable by imprisonment up to one year. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann § 625:9."

    So when pulled over he should have stated that he was recording this conversation and asked for the consent of the officer. If the officer says no he cannot, he should have simply stated that "I also refuse to consent to being recorded by a party that is not myself."

    Alternatively he could have requested to have a second officer to be called in to witness the traffic stop.

    After challenge the charges and press additional charges against the officer for wiretapping if the box is checked that the car has a video camera recording the stop.

     

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  18.  
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    Chris Rhodes (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 9:22am

    Re: The police record you with both video and audio...

    No, no, no. They only do record you so they can whip out the video in court when it supports their story. If you record them, how is the tape going to "mysteriously disappear" when it doesn't?

     

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  19.  
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    Sean T Henry (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 9:24am

    Re: Re:

    States that you could be charged with wiretapping if you do not have consent of the officer:
    California
    Connecticut
    Florida
    Illinois
    Maryland
    Massachusetts
    Michigan
    Montana
    Ne vada
    New Hampshire
    Pennsylvania
    Washington

    12 more states on my do not fly list.

     

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  20.  
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    Chris Rhodes (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 9:24am

    Re:

    Yeah, I think it was supposed to be "in support of the person who was arrested" and not "in support of the arrest of the person".

    I was confused by the wording too.

     

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  21.  
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    The J, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 9:27am

    unacceptable!

    I live a few towns away. I really think we need to buy video cameras, figure out this idiots schedule and follow him around recording everything he does until he finally understands that he is a servant of the people, not a master. And yes, we are allowed to record the police. They don't have to like it, but it doesn't mean they can make up laws to prevent it.
    Keep an eye out you stupid thug, we will be watching you. The Live Free or Die state doesn't put up with that kind of crap.

     

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  22.  
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    Shanoboy, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 9:44am

    Confused...

    Since when is wire tapping illegal anymore?

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 10:00am

    So they are going to pass a law saying you can exercise your rights? Who is going to enforce that law? The police? isn't that the problem?

    Shouldn't the Gov. or the Att. Gen. just tell the cops to knock it off? Why do they need a law?

     

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  24.  
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    Berenerd (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 10:18am

    Where?

    So, as I lived in NH for the majority of my life, I had to say that...
    As far as the Weare police are concerned, they are Judge and Jury with no need for a lawyer because they are right. I got pulled over for speeding. When I fought the ticket the cop showed up slightly intoxicated. The judge shook his head and dismissed charges.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 10:30am

    the issue is two-party consent

    The issue here is really one of living in a state that requires two-party consent for audio recording of conversations. Doesn't matter if the other party is police or not... if you need two-party consent, you get their consent first, and if not, you are illegally recording the conversation. Interestingly, you still are able to videotape something without consent, as long as you aren't recording sound.

     

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  26.  
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    Thomas (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 10:33am

    Put the town of Weare

    on your "never visit" list.

     

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  27.  
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    V, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 10:35am

    Who...

    Who Watches the Watchmen...

    Especially when they make it a crime to do so.

     

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  28.  
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    kryptonianjorel (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 10:43am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Could be charged, but not rightfully so

    While these states do require 2 party knowledge, an officer should not be considered someone with privacy rights. The officer is doing their job; a service to the public, and as such, should have no right to privacy on the job

     

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  29.  
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    PRMan, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 10:50am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Shouldn't an argument be that the officer has ALREADY consented to recording the interaction because he has a dash cam that records it anyway (too bad it wasn't working this time, but he HAS consented).

     

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  30.  
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    PRMan, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 10:52am

    Re: Live Free or Die

    They need to change it to "Die".

     

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  31.  
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    PRMan, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 10:53am

    Re: the issue is two-party consent

    But hasn't he consented, since his dash cam is supposed to be running?

     

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  32.  
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    Sean T Henry (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 11:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I'm not sure if this cop has a dash cam but mot all cars do I have been pulled over three times and only one of them had a dash cam.

    Also the article did not say that the dash cam was not working in this case for HIM but in the other wiretapping case.
    "Police also claim dashboard camera videos of her arrest aren't available because the equipment wasn't working that night. Hipple said police don't have maintenance records to prove the cameras weren't working."

     

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  33.  
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    Sean T Henry (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 11:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I completely agree, the police on the other hand do not think this way.

    A situation like this might be the time to use "But officer if you have nothing to hide then you should not mind me recording you." :)

     

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  34.  
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    Sean T Henry (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 12:00pm

    Re: Put the town of Weare

    Wrong place it should be never visit New Hampshire.

     

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  35.  
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    TheStupidOne, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 12:34pm

    Bumper Sticker

    "For security reasons, any conversations with the driver of this vehicle may be recorded."

    Then the officer can be considered informed and consent is implied until refusal to consent is explicitly stated.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 12:42pm

    Re: Re: the issue is two-party consent

    Are dash-cams recording the conversation or just video? They are in another vehicle, at least a car length away, while the officer is talking through your window into your vehicle... I doubt the audio channel has anything useful on it. But that's an interesting question whether someone audio taping you is giving implicit consent to be taped BY you.

     

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  37.  
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    Any Mouse (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 1:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: the issue is two-party consent

    They usually have audio, as well, and have very good pickups when they're turned on. They do get conversations outside the vehicle.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 1:08pm

    Re: Bumper Sticker

    Sounds like a techdirt rtb offering.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 3:57pm

    so let me get this straight... it is okay for the police to put a gps tracker on my car, illegally wiretap my phone, seize my website, arrest me, and put me in jail... but it is illegal for me to record them doing any of that?

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 5:21pm

    I have never understood how it is okay for the police to record both video and audio on any stops but the minute a citizen protects themselves and records the stop they are charged with a crime.

    Of course as others others have pointed out it is about the watchers needing to be watched and a double standard.

     

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  41.  
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    Bill McGonigle, Mar 10th, 2011 @ 11:23am

    Legal Defense Fund

    The man's legal defense fund is here:
    http://bikerbilldefense.chipin.com/biker-bill-defense-fund

    Can you spare five bucks to help establish some case law to prevent this kind of abuse? The prosecution has no need to raise such a fund, so the odds against fixing this are stacked in favor of the wrong option. Please help.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 10th, 2011 @ 9:20pm

    #39 I'll drink to that.
    This thing is turning into a stasi police state.

    The Weare police targeted this guy, plain and simple. Was he charged with any crime at the stop or given a ticket for any violation? Plus the police knew he was on the phone and knew someone was listening. The person on the other end could of been recording the call. I do know that the police had been targeting and harassing patrons of this establishment. This was seemingly an attempt to drive away business from the shop owner, which is why the libertarians were there supporting him. One could argue that the police had a grudge against people supporting a local guy, who is handicapped, I might add. And targeted one of the people leaving. Who also happens to be big on recording police.
    Popcorn? The Weare police also recently stopped an old lady that was leaving the same place. She blew a 0.0 but the police talked her into coming down to the station to blow again. She still blew a 0.0 at the station and somehow they impounded her car. Thats at least how I heard it.
    These police are thieves and deserve a night in lockup.

     

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  43.  
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    Mongo, Mar 11th, 2011 @ 6:16am

    Re: Question

    The tavern owner had been arrested by police previously. The meeting was in support of the owner, not his arrest, which is a whole different story that also reflects badly on the Weare Police. Additionally, there was another arrest on the same charge by the police (different night) where the attorney demanded the police video/audio of the arrest. They claimed the camera was broken that day. The attorney demanded the maintenance records. The police claimed they lost those.

    For more info, Google Palmer's, Weare, NH

     

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  44.  
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    Jeff, Mar 12th, 2011 @ 11:27am

    Absurd.

    The police and those who write the laws are constantly saying 'If you have nothing to hide'

    What is it that the police are truing to hide? Aren't they public servants? What is it that the cop in this case is afraid of being caught doing? The double standards that abound for the gun weilding sociopaths and the rest of us are absurd and need to be eliminated. Cops should be on the record, every moment of every shift. Unless they DO have something to hide like most of us think and realize they do.

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 15th, 2011 @ 7:50am

    Re: Where?

    big liar......fucking hipppe..put down the pipe and get a job

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    Ray Brown, May 4th, 2011 @ 8:37pm

    Washington state audio recording of Police

    See State v. Flora regarding one party consent recording of police in Washington state. A conversation must be private to be prohibited to record. Police encounters are not private conversation. Ray Brown-Seattle.

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    Wow, Jun 2nd, 2011 @ 12:34pm

    Just got pulled over for "swerving". Got my 200 dollar phone taken away. They are keeping it as evidence because they believed that I was recording the conversation. Bedford. What do they have to hide?....

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    Ben Levitan, Jun 17th, 2011 @ 8:23pm

    Wiretap might stick under NH law

    I'm an expert in wiretap (patents and I was on the team that developed the system that caught Blogo). In most states, to record a call you only need one party consent. That means if the driver knew he was recording, it would be ok. But the problem is that NH is one of a handful of states that requires that all parties on a recording consent to being wiretapped. That said, it stinks.

    I'd say it's the cops responsibility to check for guns and tape recorders.

    Ben Levitan
    Wireless Cellular Telecommunications Expert
    Expert Witness Services
    www.BenLevitan.com
    919/420-0924
    benlev@aol.com
    skype:BenLevitan
    ______________________ ______________________________
    Designated as "Elite Expert™ 2009
    "Nancy Grace Show" and "Shepard Smith, Studio B" Guest
    Please Sign Up to follow "Ben Levitan" on Twitter to get TV notifications

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    ____________________________________________________

     

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  49.  
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    pinbalwyz, Sep 18th, 2011 @ 4:20am

    implied consent when THEY give notice

    I live in Washington (2-party consent) State. But many companies and agencies (especially the Social Security Administration) open with a recording stating your call may be monitored OR RECORDED before you even get a chance to say hello to the receptionist when they eventually get to you. I've looked closely at RCW 9.73.030. Given ANY ambiguity is supposed to be construed in favor of the citizen (and I don't believe it's even ambiguous) I'm convinced that YOU can (and should!) record the call since SS has already given notice the call is being recorded. Washington State law is silent on the matter of just WHICH party must give notice.
    I couldn't find any case law in Washington State on this specific point.

     

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  50.  
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    Judy g, Dec 31st, 2011 @ 1:31am

    Re: Very important..

    I like the way you said that infact, 99 percent of crime reports are ignored and or shuffled. Our tax dollars pay for these police who abuse their positions and this country should not accept not one bad cop! Even that puts us in danger by those sworn to protect. Hopefully, they wont kill me for saying that or kill you for saying that but then they can make it look like an accident huh.

     

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  51.  
    identicon
    patty, Sep 29th, 2012 @ 7:56pm

    Re: Where?

    Why am I not surprised? The cops are just as incompetent and corrupt in Greenfield!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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