Athol, MA asked in Criminal Law and Civil Rights for Massachusetts

Q: Can someone secretly record me outside in massachusetts

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1 Lawyer Answer
Lissa McKinney
Lissa McKinney
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Acton, MA
  • Licensed in Massachusetts

A: No one can secretly record AUDIO record a private person in MA. ( the rules are a bit different for public officials, police etc). Massachusetts is one of 12 consent states requiring consent of all parties to a recording. The issue is one of secrecy though. Making it clear that a recording is being made may be enough, as in raising your hand holding the recording equipment high enough to be visible to anyone, or advsing on it that a person is being recorded. This offers the person the opportunity to leave and not be a part of the conversation. Consent is implied by the context/circumstances if a person knows they are being recorded and continues to engage rather than walk away.

However, a video recording does not offend the wiretap statute, G.L. ch. 272 sec 99 unless it is video in a private area where one has an expectation of privacy, eg.a bathroom or dressing room of a store.

When you say public, it could be your backyard or the town playground. You can be video recorded when you are in public, and *possibly audio recordings there are OK too because you have no reason to believe anything you are doing or saying is private. These are very fact specific determinations though.

There is also a distinction between violating the wiretap statute, and actually being prosecuted (criminally) or sued over it (civil damages).

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