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Save a Chatlog... Go to Prison?

CmdrTaco posted more than 10 years ago | from the hold-the-bots-responsible dept.

The Courts 486

Alien54 writes "You are engaged in a chat session with some friends and colleagues, when one of them makes a witty remark or imparts a pithy bit of information. You hit CTRL-A and select the conversation, then copy it to a document that you save. Under a little-noticed decision in a New Hampshire Superior Court in late February, these actions may just land you in jail. New Hampshire is "two-party consent state" -- one of those jurisdictions that requires all parties to a conversation to consent before the conversation can be intercepted or recorded. The decision is the first of its kind to apply that standard to online chats, and the ruling is clearly supported by the text of the law. But it marks a blow to an investigative technique that has been routinely used by law enforcement, employers, ISPs and others, who often use video tape or othermeans to track criminals in chat rooms. This also has troublesome implications [for employers] monitoring of email and other forms of electronic communications."

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First... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8847931)!

Re:First... (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8847966)

Consent is so overrated.

Thus the creation of a new chat acronym : (4, Funny)

theefer (467185) | more than 10 years ago | (#8847940)

MIST : May I Save This ?

imo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8847948)

imo this is a good thing
too often ive had logs float around!

Shame I'm in Korea now :'(

Relevance (5, Informative)

andy666 (666062) | more than 10 years ago | (#8847949)

I wonder if Hotwarg vs. the US from 1967 will have a direct bearing on this - it addressed a very similar issue for phone conversations.

Trillian Pro (4, Insightful)

MrEnigma (194020) | more than 10 years ago | (#8847951)

Well, I guess I better turn off Trillian Pro's logging by default....or at least have a macro sent to them when I start the conversation...

Re:Trillian Pro (4, Informative)

Enigma_Man (756516) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848196)

Did you read the article? It said that in Washington, a guy in an ICQ conversation got caught in much the same way, but by default ICQ comes with logging enabled, which the guy must have known, and thus, that was his form of concent of recording the conversation. So, apparently if your software does that by default, you're in the clear.


I definitely have to stop chatting… (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8847956)

...from my teletype. LOL. Laters.

Does... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8847961)

...a "chat" or "conversation" include a bulletin-board-like site like Slashdot?

Am I violating it by saving this webpage (once it has gained enough commentary)? How about a mirror of it?

Easy... (2, Insightful)

donnyspi (701349) | more than 10 years ago | (#8847963)

Have employees sign a paper saying they consent to email monitoring and the legal issues will disappear. Also, before entering a chat room, the user could have to check a box agreeing that conversations could be recorded. Maybe it's more complicated than that, I'm not sure if you need to acquire consent on a per-conversation basis or not.

Re:Easy... (5, Informative)

fdobbie (226067) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848043)

If you had actually RTFA it says that ALL parties must consent. Sure, you can get consent from your employee that their communications can be monitored, but how do you get consent from the person they are communicating with?

Re:Easy... (5, Informative)

Nuroman (588959) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848067)

Not so fast. The issue isn't whether or not the company was monitoring the employee's chat session, rather that they were monitoring the recipient of the employee's chat session. In two party consent states, it wouldn't matter whether or not the employee signed any agreement. The third party would have to consent to the monitoring.

Re:Easy... (4, Interesting)

maximilln (654768) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848142)

Once again we demonstrate that, in our current society, law is meaningless as long as you sign an agreement. With this type of mindset we never should have fought a Civil War. Just have the slaves sign an employee agreement in which they consent to accepting nothing more than a shack, a plot of land, and arbitrary termination at any time.

When is America going to wake up out of this hypocrisy?

Re:Easy... (4, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848175)

I don't think we want to encourage poking at check-boxes to be a legally-binding act.

Remember all the ire about clickthrough agreements? Yeah.

If you're in New Hampshire... (3, Funny)

heironymouscoward (683461) | more than 10 years ago | (#8847964)

you better not be contributing to [] .

Troublesome how? (1, Interesting)

joonasl (527630) | more than 10 years ago | (#8847967)

"This also has troublesome implications [for employers] monitoring of email and other forms of electronic communications."

This is probably the least troublesome aspect of this particular issue. Employers should not be allowed to track peoples personal communications in any way.

Re:Troublesome how? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8847991)

Why not? You aren't being forced to work for them. Why infringe on their freedom to suggest whatever contract they want (and yours at the same time)?

Re:Troublesome how? (3, Insightful)

dj961 (660026) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848037)

What the poster probably ment was monitoring employee use of company facilities. Personal or not you shouldn't expect or have any privacy while using company computers.

Re:Troublesome how? (1)

I confirm I'm not a (720413) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848068)

I so badly want to agree with you, but there are industries where employers are required by law to monitor employees' correspondence. Take a look at where instant messaging has not largely eroded email - you'll see the banking and legal industries, industries where there are typically legal obligations on employers to record much of what their employees do.

...doesn't mean I like it, or would particularly want to work in such an industry, but I recognise why certain employers must do this.

Good luck stopping it. (3, Informative)

lukewarmfusion (726141) | more than 10 years ago | (#8847968)

Every web application I create logs transactions, IP/datestamp, and chat transcripts (when applicable). If there's an information leak somewhere, or a crime has been committed, we can track it down.

Re:Good luck stopping it. (5, Informative)

Courageous (228506) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848114)

The problem with this assessment is that, if evidence is taken in an illegal manner, it's not admissable in court. In some cases, all *sub* evidence gathered as a result from illegal evidence can also be ruled out. Fruit of a poisoned tree and all that.


Re:Good luck stopping it. (2, Insightful)

rnelsonee (98732) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848135)

But the point here is that you may not be able to use this as evidence in court. While you may testify yourself to such events happening, it would be illegal for you to provide this evidence in many cases. The interesting tidbit from the article was that this happened to a guy using AOL's IM, and the evidence couldn't be used because a chat-logging app was installed over IM. But when it happened to another guy using ICQ, which had a default setting to log conversations, he had the conversation used against him in court, since it was reasonable to assume he knew it was being recorded. So now with your apps, it might come down to: does the average person know/expect that his actions are being recorded? Kind a weird loophole I think.

Not in Texas! (3, Informative)

MImeKillEr (445828) | more than 10 years ago | (#8847973)

In Texas, as long as one party knows the conversation is being recorded, it's legal.

As long as you're not keylogging someone else's conversation, doing what the article mentions is legal.

But one question: Why is this under the Science category and not under Privacy?

uh oh (4, Funny)

baggachipz (686602) | more than 10 years ago | (#8847976)

so, Posting IM conversations [] with random morons can get people in trouble? Where's the justice?

Re:uh oh (1)

Nuroman (588959) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848123)

It depends on the law of the State you are in. Some states only require one party to consent to the recording, even if it's only the initiator of the conversation.

Re:uh oh (1)

oolon (43347) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848205)

So what about recording script kiddies on honeypot machines. Is that also not allow? Damn lawers destroy everything fun.


IRC isn't private (1)

RayMarron (657336) | more than 10 years ago | (#8847977)

IRC is like having a conversation in public (heck, on a stage with a microphone) & I would think that it wouldn't be subject to such a law.

Re:IRC isn't private (1)

Politburo (640618) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848120)

What about private msg/notices or an invite only room with one other person? Should those be construed as public just because it took place on a public server? Are my comments to someone public because we were outside when we talked about it? (Yes, I realize they are, if someone overhears, but we're talking in the context of recording a two-party conversation, where the recorder is one of the parties.)

Maybe in New Hampshire (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8847979)

But, in my state I 0wn3 j00r 455!!

IM too? (3, Insightful)

Revolution 9 (743242) | more than 10 years ago | (#8847981)

iChat for Mac OS X has a feature that allows you to log all IM conversations automatically. I wonder if this kind of online communication is included in the NH decision.

Standard disclaimer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8847986)

All irc servers could just have a standard disclaimer in the motd stating that all conversations may be recorded blah blah blah...


Inefficient (4, Funny)

Patik (584959) | more than 10 years ago | (#8847987)

...who often use video tape or othermeans to track criminals in chat rooms.
You know, there's an easier way to log chats than to point a video camera at the monitor...

Re:Inefficient (3, Insightful)

texasandroid (692557) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848069)

Yeah, but I would think a video would make for better evidence, giving indications of the speed of the conversation, and guaranteeing that the contents of the conversation hadn't been edited, which could be done with any sort of flat-file logging.

Re:Inefficient (4, Insightful)

silas_moeckel (234313) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848193)

I think you should say giving the appearance that it has not been edited. Video taping the conversation means very little as you dont have any proof of when it is. You just play back an edited chat in front of the camera and it would look the same. You want a good log give me packet dumps from there end complete with any encryption there are firewalls that do that as a standard feature. Thats a lot harder to fake than some video tape of a computer and some cop. Granted I dont trust cops implicitly by definition there career is bosted by having a high arrest and conviction rate they have plenty of oppertunity and motive to alter evidence when they know they can get away with it. And before I get flames no not every cop is bad most probably arent but in something as serious as criminal charges I think they are not held to a high enough stnadard.

Courtroom evidence (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8848080)

A videotape of the computer screen showing the chat conversation taking place, constitutes irrefutable evidence since the jurors can plainly see the person typing on the keyboard at that end, and the text of the conversation scrolling along.

A simple textfile of the chat log can be far too easily fabricated, tampered with, manufactured false evidence, etc, and will get torn apart by the other side's attorney in court.

Not only but also.. (1)

adamofgreyskull (640712) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848091)

But I imagine it bolsters the authenticity of a chat log...which could be altered by an unscrupulous marmot.

Re:Inefficient (1)

ShortSpecialBus (236232) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848115)

Yeah, but a camera is less likely to be tampered with, if you get my meaning. It's easy to modify a chat log, it's harder to modify video.

Re:Inefficient (1)

Politburo (640618) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848174)

Easier, yes, but investigators need their evidence to hold up in court. When you present a text transcript, the defense lawyer is going to try to introduce reasonable doubt on that piece of evidence. I would imagine that a video tape is much harder to debunk as fabricated.

Active vs. Passive (2, Informative)

normal_guy (676813) | more than 10 years ago | (#8847988)

Some chat software automatically saves chatlogs. ICQ and Yahoo allow offline messaging, and act as 3rd-party brokers of the conversation. I can't see this standing up under further judicial scrutiny.

Auto saving? (0)

Fullmetal Edward (720590) | more than 10 years ago | (#8847992)

Some programs (IRC, MSN right now come to mind) both auto save logs in many cases. Doesn't this mean we're all in trouble?

Who ever knew a MS product would break the law...

Re:Auto saving? (1)

MImeKillEr (445828) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848040)

MSN Messenger doesn't do that by default, I don't believe.

Regardless, there's an option under Tools > Options > Messages to disable this by de-selecting the checkbox.

Bad news (1)

Underholdning (758194) | more than 10 years ago | (#8847993)

This could have consequences for sites like []

Oh no! Slashdot Paradox! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8847994)

If the decision stands, do we wring our hands over the "loss of a freedom"? Or if the decision is overturned, do we wring our hands over "unprecedented police powers"?

Only certain thing is that Bush will be blamed for it either way...

Logs are presumed (2, Insightful)

BrynM (217883) | more than 10 years ago | (#8847998)

Most IM software has a feature that turns on logging. I would think it would be assumed that someone in chat is keeping a log. It seems common sense not to say anything incriminating over chat. At least to me...

Re:Logs are presumed (4, Insightful)

Frobnicator (565869) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848182)

Well, if you had READ THE ARTICLE you would have seen this:
Clearly Detective Warchol consented to the recording he made, and MacMillan had little expectation of privacy in the chat session. But New Hampshire, like many other U.S. states including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Pennsylvania and Washington, requires all parties to the communication to consent to a recording before it is legal. And MacMillan, while engaged in the conversation with the putative 14-year-old, did not consent to recording the conversation.

It is useful to contrast the MacMillan case with one in 2002 in Washington state which has an even more stringent all-party consent statute. In that case, Donald Townsend engaged in an ICQ session with what he believed to be a 13-year-old girl, but was in fact an undercover police officer. In permitting the introduction of the recorded ICQ session, the court noted that the ICQ technology itself had a default setting to make a permanent record of the conversation. The court found that since Townsend should have known about the default setting, he effectively consented to the making of the recording under Washington's all-party consent statute.

In the AOL chat session, there was no such default recording, and therefore no consent by Mr. MacMillan. Therefore, the recording was illegal. The test seems to be whether the recording capability is part of the instant messaging software itself (in which case it may be legal to record) or whether it is an add-on, and therefore an unlawful recording. Courts in other all-party consent states like Maryland have reached similar conclusions with respect to recording telephone conversations.

So, it seems that since 'save' is built as a default into ICQ, it is presumed to be consent to save it. Since 'save' is an option but not default in AOL's chat, you can't save it if anybody is from those 12 states. My guess is that IRC would have automatic consent, since many IRC clients generate logs.

But once we start throwing compatible and cross-network IM clients around, who knows what the rulings would be. Plantiff: "My client does NOT log by default, so there is no implied consent" Defendant: "Your doesn't but my client DOES log by default, therefore, the system implies consent."


A blow to an investigative technique? (4, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 10 years ago | (#8847999)

Does anyone really think that this will make it impossible for police to record chats? They can tap a phone line without the consent of either party, so why wouldn't they be able to do the same here?

Re:A blow to an investigative technique? (2, Informative)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848137)

Because they didn't get a warrent. Nothing is stopping them from getting a warrent.

Re:A blow to an investigative technique? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8848197)

Is the ink dry on that?

Puh-leez. Warrants are meaningless gestures to be created after the fact only in the event that they've tapped someone who has the resources necessary to mount a legal challenge. The public defender isn't going to fight the local PD and DA over some impoverished citizen's rights. He has a reputation and a job to look out for and he doesn't want it trashed or jeopardized by some poor sap's bad luck in being targeted.

Re:A blow to an investigative technique? (4, Insightful)

Lugor (628175) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848189)

I don't think that is the point. I use Trillian and Gaim, they have auto-loggin features. So does M$-Me$$enger and many other programs. Do users have to go in and turn these off? If the program auto-logs, does that mean the user is guilty automatically by this ruling? Or should it be ASSUMED that the chat program logs and users should ask that their conversations be unlogged? What happens if I'm chatting with my friend in Canada? Britain? India? Caymans? etc... Do I have to obey their 'wiretaping' laws or they mine?

This is a joke. (1)

JavaLord (680960) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848002)

This just goes to show how out of touch the current lawmakers are with techonology.

ICQ keeps a message history, (1)

gumbysworld (470849) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848006)

ICQ keeps a message history,

One of the reason I only use it. I have a copy of every conversation I have ever had over the past
6-7 years.

And doesn't the NSA listen to anything and everything??? (1)

foobrain (411652) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848013)

Whoa! What will happen to then? :P

Impossible to enforce 100% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8848014)

Are you going to find all parties in large chat rooms to ask their permission? What if some of the participants are outside state lines or out of the the country? What if one party is using a proxy?

Aren't employers required to monitor e-comms? (3, Interesting)

fdobbie (226067) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848015)

Under the Sarbanes-Oxley act employers are required to monitor and archive all electronic communications. There was an article [] about this the other day over at El Reg.

So, in New Hampshire, it sounds like employers must either not comply with Sarbanes-Oxley or must be guilty of illegal wiretapping. Or am I missing something?

oh crap (1)

kyjello (566001) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848017)

I use gaim, and have been getting it to log my chats for over a year now. If I started the conversation with someone then I can sort of understand that they might not want it to be recorded. But I think if they started the conversation with me then recording should be fair game.

This is Science? (4, Insightful)

Tickenest (544722) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848018)

This sounds an awful lot like a Your Rights Online topic.

Re:This is Science? (2, Funny)

PrintError (708568) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848118)

I am Error.

Well, I am PrintError. Pleased to meet you.

Not blow to employers (1)

millahtime (710421) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848020)

This isn't to much of a blow to employers. Most employees can be fired at the discretion of the employeer. If they know you are doing it then that is enough. They don't have to go through any legal system or have proof that is legally bound.

Uh oh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8848024) better watch out, here come the subpeonas for all those users who want their dumbass quotes removed =)

Online games logging features (3, Insightful)

Aindair (753209) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848025)

So, online games with logging to file features (Everquest, SWG, DAoC, etc) would fall under this ruling too?
I know people that have logged to text files and then to data base everything they have said and had said to them for 5+ years in some of these games. Considering that /tell features in the games should be considered as private as a chat session, this must suck.
Also considering that techsupport often asks for logs when reporting bugs/unusual behavior or cheating, would that make them accomplices after the fact?

Standard Internet Usage Policies (2, Insightful)

cmstremi (206046) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848033)

This is probably already commonly covered with most employer Internet Usage Polices that employees are typically required to sign. I know that, with the larget companies for whom I've worked, I had to sign this policy that notified me that they could read my e-mail, monitor my Internet Usage and pusnish me for disobeying the policy. I'd bet this is enough notice to cover a case like that described in the blurb.

We are at step 4! (1)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848038)

1.) Kings dominate earth

2.) Kings useless, presidents and prime ministers dominate the earth

3.) Presidents and P minister useless, lawyers dominate the earth

4.) Lawyers useless, Geeks dominate earth.

5.) Geeks useless, machines dominate earth.

Re:We are at step 4! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8848155)

Step 6: Machines break, cockroaches dominate the earth.

Re:We are at step 4! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8848168)

6.) Machines useless, Aliens dominate earth

It doesn't affect law enforcement... (4, Insightful)

kypper (446750) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848045)

Anything that's public is takeable. If the police want someone's fingerprints, they may not be able to get them without a warrant, but they can snag the softdrink the person just tossed in the trash. The chat room is like a piece of paper someone has written a letter on then tossed out: now public domain. Once the person leaves a chat room (especially in something like IRC), the list is still there logged to your computer until you close the screen.

Interestingly enough, what about programs that log the chats automatically? I would have an easy time (I think) defending that trillian was logging without my knowledge as opposed to me physically copying a conversation without the other party's consent.

Re:It doesn't affect law enforcement... (1)

oolon (43347) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848183)

I think the police oftain have to ask for "permission". Such as asking the person for a cup for used cigarettes.


Interesting wording if not. (0)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848204)

" of those jurisdictions that requires all parties to a conversation to consent before the conversation can be intercepted or recorded."

Police: Can we tap your phone?
Drug dealer: No.
Punter: No.
Police: Uh, ok then. Have a nice day.

Yup. That'll work.

Science? (1)

ThomK (194273) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848046)

How so?

Re:Science? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8848127)

I guess CmdrTaco is running an experiment where a bunch of people save chat logs, and a bunch of people don't save chat logs. He's keeping track of which ones go to prison, and which ones don't.

Chat logging as wiretapping? (4, Insightful)

spellraiser (764337) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848047)

They are missing one crucial point here I think. A chat log is (usually) just a plain text file of the contents of a chat session. A file like this could easily be created by hand by anyone, at any time. Even when it's something more sophisticated than a text file, it can still be faked pretty easily.

So wouldn't a log like this be completely inadmissable in any court anyway? Wiretaps have been used for years on the premise that audio analysis can be used to unerringly establish the identity of the speaker. Chatlogs are simply a whole other kettle of fish.

Quotes file? (1)

JessLeah (625838) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848059)

I maintain a file, quotes.txt, in my home directory. When I read something catchy, pithy or-- especially-- wise, I copy the quote to the file (with a citation of who said it).

Evidently I am now a freaking criminal for this?

Not really a problem...for some... (1)

jwthompson2 (749521) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848064)

This also has troublesome implications [for employers] monitoring of email and other forms of electronic communications.

This won't really be much of a problem, just add a few lines to the employment contract/agreement/whatever and employers will be getting current employees on board might be an issue, but a smart employer would have reserved the right to modify such an agreement at any time anyways, so only law-enforcement needs to be updated, or am I missing something?

Re:Not really a problem...for some... (1)

nharmon (97591) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848169)

I was thinking the same thing, but what about incoming email from outside your organization? You cannot make someone outside of your organization sign a contract or agreement.

On the bright side... (2, Funny)

stealth.c (724419) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848082)

New Hampshire residents won't have to {ASSASSINATE BUSH} worry about the Feds going after them for {ANTHRAX} setting off {A BOMB} certain designated keywords in IRC.

Fix it on the application side (1)

kippy (416183) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848083)

This could be taken care of with a little work on the app. Perhaps have a setting that says "I allow others to record my conversations". Have it checked by default. Kind of like an EULA option.

If a remote user hits ctrl-a, it only highlights text where the other person has the "record" option checked. This might actually find some fans in the tinfoil hat crowd since it would be a kind of privacy measure.

Of course it wouldn't prevent screenshots.

SO... (1)

The Desert Palooka (311888) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848087)

Is AOL's AIM with its Save function aiding criminal action?

How soon until we see (much like US vs Non-US crypto) NH version of AIM vs US Version vs DC (posts all conversation to Drudge Report)?

RTFA (4, Informative)

rarose (36450) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848122)

If the program has a "Save function" then the Judge ruled the user has a lower expectation of privacy than if the program doesn't have a "Save function".

The case at hand involved software that didn't have a built-in save function, but the cop used a camcorder and another software package to record the session.

So every node operator on the net is a criminal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8848089)

Information is recorded or intercepted in the process of transmission and reception. Thousands of routers, modems, disks and memory modules have recorded and intercepted "conversations" between second and third parties, quintillions of times.

Not affected (1)

ReTay (164994) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848092)

As I live in a state that does not require two party consent it does not really matter. Where I am it is perfectly legal to record conversations with people with out the little beep every few seconds. In fact if Monica had lived in MN she would have been fine.
IANAL but any bets on how this would apply to chat logs?

Too bad (1)

natefanaro (304646) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848095)

Doesn't iChat have the ability to log all of your conversations? Hope that doesn't land Apple in hot water as well.

Live Free or Die? (1)

That's Unpossible! (722232) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848097)

The founding fathers are rolling over in their graves. I often like to think what the modern world would be like in America if these men were still holding sway.

Who on earth would think you can type or write something down and it NOT be recorded? That is what you are doing -- recording your words onto a medium.

And now that I think about it, the original law this is based on is also pretty lame. If you don't want someone to record what you're saying, don't talk to them.

What does "record" mean? (4, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848102)

Most IRC clients will buffer quite a few (thousands) of lines in RAM. Is this sort of recording different? What if it gets swapped to disk? What about systems with long average uptimes--if I just leave my IRC window open for a month (or leave it up through hibernate/resume cycles), have I recorded it? What if I have that conversation on a laptop, and try to get it admitted as evidence without ever powering it down? ("Hurry up, Your Honor, klaptop says I've got 30 minutes of battery life left!") What if I hibernate it and resume it in the courtroom? Then it's technically been written to a permanent storage medium, but only as an extension of a volatile one.

The law needs clear definitions to work well... I don't think it's a blow to privacy rights for participants to assume that anyone party to a text conversation can record it.

Spoken conversations are by definition transient--the sound is gone as soon as it happens. The law makes sense for those. But for text conversations, with backscroll and long buffers, it quickly becomes silly.

Carnivore? (1)

goldspider (445116) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848107)

"New Hampshire is 'two-party consent state'"

Apparently unless one party is in law enforcement. Do laws like this one apply to communication tracking systems used by law enforcement WITHOUT A WARRANT?

Re:Carnivore? (1)

z_gringo (452163) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848186)

The article was pretty good. Take a quick look at it. :-)

One of the parties was law enforcement, and he didn't have a warrant so all the evidence was thrown out.

Oh dear (1)

jocks (56885) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848109)

America© Home© Of© The© Free©

So, what about saving email? (3, Interesting)

The I Shing (700142) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848110)

Is email considered a telecommunications medium? If I'm a two-party consent state, and someone sends me an email without included or implied permission to save it, am I required to delete it from my server and my hard drive after I've read it?

Hey, couldn't this be used to fight off an RIAA lawsuit? Could making a record of a Kazaa user's IP address without that user's consent be illegal in a two-party consent state?

GAIM? (1)

3Suns (250606) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848112)

I wonder how this applies to GAIM's logging feature, which I believe is now on by default. Every conversation is logged, automatically. However, the general AIM populace is used to using a client where automatic logging isn't an option.

I don't see how saving a correspondence in which you are a participant can be illegal. Next they will be telling us not to remember anything either.

What does that mean for Ethereal? (1)

TooTallFourThinking (206334) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848113)

Can't snoop network traffic without permission if someone is having a conversation. Does that apply to other forms of internet communications? IRCs? FTP? talk?

I view online messaging much like I do with email, if it's on my computer, I can keep it. Both parties wanted to talk as there was implied consent. Even if it's just to tell someone to *#@! off.

Same as it's always been... (1)

rarose (36450) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848195)

It's illegal to snoop other folks network traffic unless you have a legal reason to be snooping:
a) You're law enforcement with a warrant
b) You're an admin doing network maintenance where the snooping is incidental to performing your work.

Where does the conversation take place? (1)

lightspawn (155347) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848121)

Does the server have to be in New Hampshire? The saver? The savee?

This is completely moronic, of course. What about posession of tools that auto-save conversations (say, ICQ?) Surely this must be illegal in New Hampshire! What about email communication?

Implicit consent should (almost?) always be assumed in communication of this type.

Are we going to see more disclaimers when we log into chat servers? "By logging in, you hereby consent etc etc; if you don't like it log out now".


sogoodsofarsowhat (662830) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848126)

Here in Kentucky we are a 1-party consent state even regarding telephone taping. So screw them. Ill copy and save and tape any conversation im involved in even as a passive listner (excepting for wiretap violations which is federal) without worry. :P nana

Wiretapping Laws (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848134)

In my opinion if it is not it should be illegal wiretapping if a law enforcement official does this copying without a warrant anyhow. I don't see how it hurts law enforcement at all.

Troublesome consequences? (4, Interesting)

dmayle (200765) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848138)

This is downright welcome! Some portion of you are going to consider this flamebait, but shouldn't online chat be held to the same restrictions that other conversations are?

If we had the easy ability to do audio searches, would there be phones that recorded a history of the last n hours of conversation you had? Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should...

auto log save ! (1)

digitalsurgeon (629388) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848140)

i use msnplus and i've set it up so that it automatically save all the chat logs, :'( hey but i need all those chat logs, how else will i remember what my boss asked me to do ?

Egad! Have to change Trillian (1)

spamacon (239531) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848154)

Trillian (I think by default) is setup to save a log of all chats. Better make sure the person I am chatting with is not from New Hampshire: AYINH? (Are you in new hampshire?)

I agree to allow this reply to be recorded.... (1)

Arngautr (745196) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848164)

Seems like this may have had some impact 15 years ago if everybody agreed to it, but now it either won't last in the face of the obvious ubiquity of silent loggers such as Trillian (as has been mentioned before), or it will only be selectively enforced when they want to enforce it.
Just the way I see it.

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8848167)

What about those of us that use AIM mod's like DeadAIM that automatically log all conversations?

What if you cant help it? (2, Informative)

CrazyTalk (662055) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848171)

This whole thing is ridiculous. Some IM systems (MS Messenger comes to mind) automagically save all of your chats, whether you specify it or not. In fact, prolly most users don't even realize that they are being saved. Are all users of that software to be immediately jailed?

Postal system... (1)

adamofgreyskull (640712) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848203)

The way I see it, if someone types a message and clicks the 'send' button, then it should be the equivalent of writing something down and then posting it to the other person. And in most cases it is the equivalent of writing a message on a postcard and posting it...

I'm no expert on the American legal system, but I'd assume that you're allowed to keep any correspondence you is this any different...

line printers (2, Funny)

happyfrogcow (708359) | more than 10 years ago | (#8848209)

How does this apply to someone using a printer instead of a monitor, such that the printer prints out every line of the conversatino as it happens?
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