Comprehensive Overview (state-by-state) of the Legal Impact of wiretapping:
Ohio has an interception statute based on the Federal Wiretapping Act, adopting the same provisions and definitions. Ohio is thus an “one party consent state” in regard to intercepting, using and disclosing private communications, either oral, wired or electronic.
Ohio also has voyeurism statute, which prohibits individuals from invading the privacy of others for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification.
Impact of law
In Ohio, it is legal for a person to record an oral conversation or communication in which he or she is a party without the consent and without notifying the other parties. The same is valid for 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 lawfully record any email, text messages, chat content and other online interactions.
The voyeurism statute makes it illegal to spy or eavesdrop upon another person, but sets a nudity or bodily exposure clause when addressing the videotaping or otherwise recording of another person.
References to Physical TSCM
Ohio law, as based on the federal provisions, 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”. Second, “electronic, mechanical, or other device” is 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.
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.
Whoever violates the provisions of the interception statute is guilty a felony of the fourth degree. Violations of the voyeurism statute are considered misdemeanors of first, second or third degree.
Anyone whose wire, oral or electronic communication has been intercepted in violation of the law can bring a civil suit to recover actual damages, punitive damages, attorney’s fees and litigation costs.
Actual damages are computed at greater amounts than other states: $200 a day for each day of violation or $10,000, whichever is greater. The claimant has 2 years to commence the civil action after the date the interception has been discovered.
Ohio Rev. Code Ann. 2933.52 Interception of wire, oral or electronic communications.
(A) No person purposely shall do any of the following:
(1) Intercept, attempt to intercept, or procure another person to intercept or attempt to intercept a wire, oral, or electronic communication;
(2) Use, attempt to use, or procure another person to use or attempt to use an interception device to intercept a wire, oral, or electronic communication, if either of the following applies:
(a) The interception device is affixed to, or otherwise transmits a signal through, a wire, cable, satellite, microwave, or other similar method of connection used in wire communications;
(b) The interception device transmits communications by radio, or interferes with the transmission of communications by radio.
(3) Use, or attempt to use, the contents of a wire, oral, or electronic communication, knowing or having reason to know that the contents were obtained through the interception of a wire, oral, or electronic communication in violation of sections 2933.51 to 2933.66 of the Revised Code.
(B) This section does not apply to any of the following:
(4) A person who is not a law enforcement officer and who intercepts a wire, oral, or electronic communication, if the person is a party to the communication or if one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent to the interception […]
(C) Whoever violates this section is guilty of interception of wire, oral, or electronic communications, a felony of the fourth degree.
Ohio Rev. Code Ann. 2933.51 Wiretapping, electronic surveillance definitions.
(A) “Wire communication” means an aural transfer that is made in whole or in part through the use of facilities for the transmission of communications by the aid of wires or similar methods of connecting the point of origin of the communication and the point of reception of the communication […]
(B) “Oral communication” means an oral communication uttered by a person exhibiting an expectation that the communication is not subject to interception under circumstances justifying that expectation. “Oral communication” does not include an electronic communication.
(C) “Intercept” means the aural or other acquisition of the contents of any wire, oral, or electronic communication through the use of an interception device.
(D) “Interception device” means an electronic, mechanical, or other device or apparatus that can be used to intercept a wire, oral, or electronic communication.
(N) “Electronic communication” means a transfer of a sign, signal, writing, image, sound, datum, or intelligence of any nature that is transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectronic, or photo-optical system.
Ohio Rev. Code Ann. 2933.65 Civil and criminal actions for wiretapping and electronic surveillance violations.
(A) A person whose wire, oral, or electronic communications are intercepted, disclosed, or intentionally used in violation of sections of the Revised Code may bring a civil action to recover […]
(1) The preliminary and other equitable or declaratory relief that is appropriate;
(2) Whichever of the following is greater:
(a) Liquidated damages computed at a rate of two hundred dollars per day for each day of violation or liquidated damages or ten thousand dollars, whichever is greater;
(b) The sum of actual damages suffered by the plaintiff and the profits, if any, made as a result of the violation by the person or entity that engaged in the violation.
(3) Punitive damages, if appropriate;
(4) Reasonable attorney’s fees and other litigation expenses that are reasonably incurred in bringing the civil action
(C) A claimant who brings a civil action under division (A) of this section shall commence the civil action within two years after the date on which the claimant first has a reasonable opportunity to discover the violation.
Ohio Rev. Code Ann. 2907.08 Voyeurism.
(A) No person, for the purpose of sexually arousing or gratifying the person’s self, shall commit trespass or otherwise surreptitiously invade the privacy of another, to spy or eavesdrop upon another.
(B) No person, for the purpose of sexually arousing or gratifying the person’s self, shall commit trespass or otherwise surreptitiously invade the privacy of another to videotape, film, photograph, or otherwise record the other person in a state of nudity.
(D) No person shall secretly or surreptitiously videotape, film, photograph, or otherwise record another person under or through the clothing being worn by that other person for the purpose of viewing the body of, or the undergarments worn by, that other person.
(1) Whoever violates this section is guilty of voyeurism.
(2) A violation of division (A) of this section is a misdemeanor of the third degree.
(3) A violation of division (B) of this section is a misdemeanor of the second degree.
(4) A violation of division (D) of this section is a misdemeanor of the first degree.