Comprehensive Overview (state-by-state) of the Legal Impact of wiretapping:

Maryland

Current status

Maryland is an “all parties consent state” and its interception statute addresses oral and wire conversations as well as electronic communication. Maryland also specifically addresses “visual surveillance” of an individual and has a specific section addressing dressing rooms and rest rooms in retail stores.

Impact of law

Under Maryland law, it is unlawful to record communications without the permission of all the parties. The state’s privacy law also prohibits video surveillance of other persons without their consent. For instance, it is illegal to use without consent any video surveillance device in private places, defined as dressing rooms and restrooms in retail stores, regardless of ownership of the premises. However, the law makes specific exceptions for persons who conduct visual surveillance of an individual to protect property or public safety or to prevent crime as well as for licensed private detectives in the course of their business.

References to Physical TSCM

The law text keeps an open definition of intercepting devices, referencing “any electronic, mechanical, or other device” that can be used in such context. The definition of the phrase itself is all-inclusive, excluding only communication devices used in the ordinary course of communication such as telephones, as well as hearing aid devices. We can assume that the law is intended to address all available physical surveillance devices.

Further, the privacy law addresses visual surveillance by direct sight, the use of mirrors, cameras or, electronic devices that can be used surreptitiously to observe an individual.

References to Cyber TSCM

Maryland uses the same definition for “electronic communication” as do many other states: any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectronic, or photo-optical system. Provided that the digital media is included in this definition, which means it is also subject of the law, then cyber eavesdropping methods should also be addressed by the same law.

Criminal implications

Violations of the interception law are felonies and carry sentences of imprisonment for up to five years and fines of up to $10,000. Violators of the visual surveillance law face misdemeanor charges, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine, or 30 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,000 or both, in the case of violation of privacy in retail stores.

Civil implications

Victims of illegal interceptions or surveillance are entitled to civil suits against the perpetrators and recovery of actual and punitive damages, as well as attorney fees and litigation costs.

Code excerpts

Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. 10-402[1].

(a) Except as otherwise specifically provided in this subtitle it is unlawful for any person to:

(1) Willfully intercept, endeavor to intercept, or procure any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept, any wire, oral, or electronic communication;

(2) Willfully disclose, or endeavor to disclose, to any other person the contents of any wire, oral, or electronic communication, knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through the interception of a wire, oral, or electronic communication in violation of this subtitle; or

(3) Willfully use, or endeavor to use, the contents of any wire, oral, or electronic communication, knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through the interception of a wire, oral, or electronic communication in violation of this subtitle.

(b) Any person who violates subsection (a) of this section is guilty of a felony and is subject to imprisonment for not more than 5 years or a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.

(3) It is lawful under this subtitle for a person to intercept a wire, oral, or electronic communication where the person is a party to the communication and where all of the parties to the communication have given prior consent to the interception […]

Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. 10-401[2].

As used in this subtitle the following terms have the meanings indicated:

(1) “Wire communication” means any aural transfer made in whole or in part through the use of facilities for the transmission of communications by the aid of wire, cable, or other like connection between the point of origin and the point of reception […]

(2) (i) “Oral communication” means any conversation or words spoken to or by any person in private conversation.

(3) “Intercept” means the aural or other acquisition of the contents of any wire, electronic, or oral communication through the use of any electronic, mechanical, or other device.

(4) “Electronic, mechanical, or other device” means any device or electronic communication other than:

(i) Any telephone or instrument (being used in the ordinary course of communication)

(ii) A hearing aid or similar device being used to correct subnormal hearing to not better than normal.

(7) “Contents“, when used with respect to any wire, oral, or electronic communication, includes any information concerning the identity of the parties to the communication or the existence, substance, purport, or meaning of that communication.

(11) (i) “Electronic communication” means any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectronic, or photo-optical system.

Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. 3–901[3].

(a) (1) In this section the following words have the meanings indicated.

(2) “Private place” means a dressing room or restroom in a retail store.

(3) “Visual surveillance” means surveillance by: (i) direct sight; (ii) the use of mirrors; (iii) the use of cameras; or (iv) the use of an electronic device that can be used surreptitiously to observe an individual.

(c) A person may not conduct or procure another to conduct visual surveillance of an individual in a private place without the consent of that individual.

(d) A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 30 days or a fine not exceeding $1,000 or both.

(e) It is not a defense to a prosecution under this section that the defendant owns the premises where the private place is located.

(f) (1) An individual who was under visual surveillance in violation of this section has a civil cause of action against any person who conducted or procured a person to conduct the visual surveillance.

(2) In an action under this subsection, the court may award actual damages and reasonable attorney’s fees.

Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. 3-902[4]. Visual surveillance with prurient intent.

(a) Definitions.-

(2) “Camera” includes any electronic device that can be used surreptitiously to observe an individual.

(5) (i) “Private place” means a room in which a person can reasonably be expected to fully or partially disrobe and has a reasonable expectation of privacy (including tanning room, dressing room, bedroom, or restroom)

(6) (i) “Visual surveillance” means the deliberate, surreptitious observation of an individual by any means.

(b) Scope of section.- This section does not apply to a person who without prurient intent:

(2) conducts or procures another to conduct visual surveillance of an individual to protect property or public safety or prevent crime; or

(3) conducts visual surveillance and:

(i) holds a license issued under Title 13 or Title 19 of the Business Occupations and Professions Article; and

(ii) is acting within the scope of the person’s occupation.

(d) Penalty.- A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 1 year or a fine not exceeding $2,500 or both.

(e) Civil action.-

(1) An individual who was under visual surveillance in violation of this section has a civil cause of action against any person who conducted or procured another to conduct the visual surveillance.

(2) In an action under this subsection, the court may award actual damages and reasonable attorney’s fees.

 

 

[1] Source: http://law.justia.com/codes/maryland/2005/gcj/10-402.html

[2] Source: http://law.justia.com/codes/maryland/2005/gcj/10-401.html

[3] Source: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2015RS/Statute_Web/gcr/3-901.pdf

[4] Source: http://law.justia.com/codes/maryland/2010/criminal-law/title-3/subtitle-9/3-902