Thursday, October 19, 2017

Check State Law Before You Record

In the midst of the current up-welling of women reporting their experiences with sexual harassment and assaults, often in the workplace, I happened to hear a conversation today on MPR with Gretchen Carlson. Most people know that she used to work for Fox News and was harassed by Roger Ailes, that she left, got a settlement out of the company, and was instrumental in his departure from Fox.

People not from Minnesota may not know that she's from one of our Twin Cities suburbs, and was Miss Minnesota before she was Miss America. (And she was valedictorian and played the violin before going to Stanford. How she ever decided to spend her brains at Fox, I do not know.)

Anyway, that explains why she was talking to a local station in Minnesota.

The thing I wanted to report from Carlson's conversation with Tom Webber was that it's legal in 17 states, including Minnesota and New York, to record a conversation that you are part of. So in other words, if someone is harassing you, you can record it on your phone and turn it over as evidence.

In 33 other states, though, it's not legal to do that. In those states, all parties to a conversation have to agree to be recorded. I don't know about 32 of those, but Carlson said that in California — where Harvey Weinstein and other film producers and directors do most of their work — it is a felony to record a conversation like that.

How is that even possible? In one-third of states it's completely legal, while in at least one other (maybe more!), it's not just a misdemeanor or something like that and worth the risk, it's a felony! To record someone else who is breaking the law.

California, you need to change that.

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