HB1546 OTP with Amendment by HCJPSC

HB1546 was voted 10-4 as ought to pass with amendment by the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. This bill allows recording public servants doing their job. The amendment changes the substance of this bill to this:

RSA 570-A:2, I-a, relative to the penalty for knowing interception of a telecommunication or oral communication without consent, is repealed.

The majority report on the bill from the committee was written by Rep. John Burt:

This bill as amended will allow New Hampshire to become a one-party consent state to record oral communications between two people. currently there are 39 states that allow one-party consent to record oral communications between two people. We also heard that under Glik v. Cunniffe, 655 F.3d 78 (1st Cir. 2011) the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held that a private citizen has the right to record video and audio of public officials in a public place, and that the arrest of the citizen for a wiretapping violation violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights. The bipartisan majority agrees it is time for NH to join the other 39 states and allow one-party consent to record oral communications between two people.

The minority report on the bill from the committee was written by Rep. Geoffrey Hirsch:

The laudable goal of this bill as introduced was to increase government transparency and accountability and protect the right to free expression. Unfortunately, the practical impact of this bill as amended is to eliminate essential privacy protections that exist under current New Hampshire law. New Hampshire is one of about a dozen states that require all parties to a conversation to consent to be recorded under RSA 570-A:2. This is often referred to as “two-party” or “dual” consent. The purpose of our consent wiretapping statute as currently written is to protect innocent citizens from undue surveillance, whether by the state or other private individuals. It is intended to protect individuals’ right to an expectation of privacy in their private conversations. This bill would severely weaken these protections and put the privacy of Granite Staters at risk. Moreover, the right to record the police and other government actors is already protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This protection was just recently confirmed by the federal appellate court with jurisdiction over New Hampshire in the case Gericke v. Begin, 753 F. 3d (1st Cir. 2014). NH law needs to protect our rights to privacy, not erode them by passing this bill.

This bill now goes to the full House for a vote on the regular calendar on March 9, 2016.

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