Spouses Have Bathroom Privacy Rights

by Brian Vertz on March 11, 2010

A link on How Appealing alerted me to a recent decision of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, finding that a person has a right of privacy from being videotaped while alone in a residential bathroom shared with that person’s spouse. Even married persons can be found guilty of violating privacy laws in that state when they record video of their spouses undressing without their consent.

The defendant in the case admitted that he created videotapes for his own private enjoyment, recording the view from a small hole in the bathroom wall, when he and his wife stopped having sex. He was convicted under Minnesota’s version of a wiretapping law, which criminalized the recording of sounds or events through a window or aperture where a person is likely to expose his or her intimate parts.

In this case, as in so many other cases dealing with illegal wiretapping (which may include secret audio recordings of telephone conversations, secret video recordings, or secret computer monitoring devices or software), the crux of the issue is whether the victim has a reasonable expectation of privacy. Before recording any sounds, videos, or computer or telephone communications, it is extremely important to consider whether the recording may violate federal or state laws.

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