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

Minnesota

Current status

Minnesota Code also uses the federal provisions regarding the interception of communications, thus criminalizes the interception or recording of other persons without their consent. In the case of private communication, the law prohibits the interception of wire, oral or electronic communications by any person, unless he or she is a party to the communication or has received prior consent from one of the parties. In the case of video surveillance, the law entitles individuals to privacy from video intrusion in their residences.

Impact of law

In Minnesota, it is legal for a person to record an oral conversation or communication in which he or she is a party without the consent or even without notifying the other

parties. The same applies to wire and electronic communications, defined as “any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data or intelligence of any nature”, meaning that one can also legally record any email, text messages, chat content and other online interactions.

The video surveillance law prohibits any surreptitious recording and broadcasting of the actions, image or sound of another person, when that person is in a private residence as well as in another place where there is reasonable expectation of privacy, such as a hotel, a tanning booth, locker room, etc.

References to Physical TSCM

Minnesota law prohibits the illegal “interception of any wire, electronic, or oral communication”. Further definitions of terms lead to a very broad perspective on the law.

First, the law defines the term “intercept” as the acquisition of the contents of communication “through the use of any electronic, mechanical, or other device”.

The phrase “electronic, mechanical, or other device” is then defined as “any device or apparatus which can be used to intercept” a wire, electronic, or oral communication.

We can thus assert that the law addresses illegal interception through the use of any device which can be used to intercept any wire, electronic, or oral communication. This is an all-inclusive perspective, that can literally address any means of wiretapping and available devices.

However, paragraph (2) of Minn. Stat. 626A.02 specifically addresses interception through devices but only with regard to oral communication, and only in the case of a device that further transmits information. It is our opinion that the broader perspective should prevail.

References to Cyber TSCM

As stated earlier, In the case of intercepting electronic communication, the law mentions the use of any electronic, mechanical, or other device as means for illegal acquisition of electronic communication content. From further definitions, we assert that such devices are considered to be “any device or apparatus which can be used to intercept” “any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data or intelligence of any nature”. This description can be interpreted to cover all available cyber-surveillance tools.

Criminal implications

Penalties under Minnesota interception law are the same for actual illegal interception as well as for disclosure and use of illegally obtained informations. Violations carry a maximum punishment of 5 years of imprisonment and up to $20,000 fine.

Intrusion of privacy under the hidden camera law is considered a felony, punishable by up to 2 years of imprisonment and up to $5,000 fine.

Civil implications

Anyone whose communication have been illegally intercepted, disclosed or used is entitled to recover damages from the intruder. The amount can be as large as the sum of three times the actual damages suffered by the plaintiff and any profits made by the violator as a result of the violation or statutory damages of whichever is the greater of $100 a day for each day of violation or $10,000[1].

Code excerpts

Minn. Stat. 626A.02[2] Interception and disclosure of wire, electronic, or oral communications prohibited. Subdivision 1.Offenses.

Except as otherwise specifically provided in this chapter any person who:

(1) intentionally intercepts, endeavors to intercept, or procures any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept, any wire, electronic, or oral communication;

(2) intentionally uses, endeavors to use, or procures any other person to use or endeavor to use any electronic, mechanical, or other device to intercept any oral communication when:

(i) such device is affixed to, or otherwise transmits a signal through, a wire, cable, or other like connection used in wire communication; or

(ii) such device transmits communications by radio, or interferes with the transmission of such communication;

(3) intentionally discloses, or endeavors to disclose, to any other person the contents of any wire, electronic, or oral communication, knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through the interception […]

(4) intentionally uses, or endeavors to use, the contents of any wire, electronic, or oral communication, knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through the interception of a wire, electronic, or oral communication in violation of this subdivision; shall be punished as provided in subdivision 4, or shall be subject to suit as provided in subdivision 5.

Minn. Stat. 626A.02 Subd. 2

(d) It is not unlawful under this chapter for a person not acting under color of law to intercept a wire, electronic, or oral communication where such person is a party to the communication or where one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent to such interception […]

Minn. Stat. 626A.01[3] Definitions

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 […]. “Wire communication” includes any electronic storage of the communication.

Oral communication” means any oral communication uttered by a person exhibiting an expectation that such communication is not subject to interception under circumstances justifying such expectation, but the term does not include any electronic communication.

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.

Electronic, mechanical, or other device” means any device or apparatus which can be used to intercept a wire, electronic, or oral communication

Contents,” when used with respect to any wire, electronic, or oral communication, includes any information concerning the substance, purport, or meaning of that communication

Electronic communication” means 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.

Minn. Stat. 626A.02 Subd. 4. Penalties.

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) or in subdivision 5, whoever violates subdivision 1 shall be fined not more than $20,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both

Minn. Stat. 626A.13[4] Subd. 2.Relief.

In an action under this section, appropriate relief includes:(1) temporary and other equitable or declaratory relief as may be appropriate; (2) damages under subdivision 3 and punitive damages in appropriate cases; and (3) a reasonable attorney’s fee and other litigation costs reasonably incurred.

Minn. Stat. 609.746[5] Interference with privacy. Subdivision 1.Surreptitious intrusion; observation device.

(a) A person is guilty of a gross misdemeanor who:

(1) enters upon another’s property;

(2) surreptitiously gazes, stares, or peeps in the window or any other aperture of a house or place of dwelling of another; and

(3) does so with intent to intrude upon or interfere with the privacy of a member of the household.

(b) A person is guilty of a gross misdemeanor who:

(1) enters upon another’s property;

(2) surreptitiously installs or uses any device for observing, photographing, recording, amplifying, or broadcasting sounds or events through the window or any other aperture of a house or place of dwelling of another; and

(3) does so with intent to intrude upon or interfere with the privacy of a member of the household.

(c) A person is guilty of a gross misdemeanor who:

(1) surreptitiously gazes, stares, or peeps in the window or other aperture of a sleeping room in a hotel, a tanning booth, or other place where a reasonable person would have an expectation of privacy […]; and

(2) does so with intent to intrude upon or interfere with the privacy of the occupant.

(d) A person is guilty of a gross misdemeanor who:

(1) surreptitiously installs or uses any device for observing, photographing, recording, amplifying, or broadcasting sounds or events through the window or other aperture of a sleeping room in a hotel, a tanning booth, or other place where a reasonable person would have an expectation of privacy […] and

(2) does so with intent to intrude upon or interfere with the privacy of the occupant.

Minn. Stat. 626A.13[6] Civil remedies. Subdivision 1. […] a person whose wire, oral, or electronic communication is intercepted, disclosed, or intentionally used in violation of this chapter may in a civil action recover from the person or entity that engaged in that violation relief as may be appropriate.

Subd. 2.Relief. In an action under this section, appropriate relief includes:

(1) temporary and other equitable or declaratory relief as may be appropriate;

(2) damages under subdivision 3 and punitive damages in appropriate cases; and

(3) a reasonable attorney’s fee and other litigation costs reasonably incurred.

 

 

[1] Source: https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/statutes/?id=626A.13

[2] Source: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=626a.02

[3] Source: https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/statutes/?id=626A.01

[4] Source: https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/statutes/?id=626A.13

[5] Source: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=609.746

[6] Source: https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/statutes/?id=626A.13