Home Local Government Recording people without consent is against the law and creepy

Recording people without consent is against the law and creepy

By Concerned Citizen

In Washington State, there is a “two-party consent” law regarding recording conversations. Under this law, it is illegal to record a private conversation without all parties’ consent. 

Charles Schaefer is accused of recording our city manager without his consent and posting the recording on Twitter. Schaefer claims he recorded during an open city meeting and, therefore, did not violate the “two-party consent” law. However, the recording was made after the city meeting was adjourned (not to mention that the city records the meetings for all to review, so why is Schaefer recording anyway? )

Who cares? He has a right to record an open meeting. Sometimes the city recording quality and sound is not good, so perhaps Schaefer has more faith in his private microphone. However, this is no excuse for privately recording our city manager after a city meeting is concluded. 

Schaefer continued recording and engaged in a one-on-one conversation with the city manager after the city council meeting was formally adjourned. He recorded without the city manager’s knowledge or consent. If true, this action would be a violation of the state’s privacy laws.

Schaefer then posted a recording of the post-meeting conversation on Twitter. This is a violation for several reasons:

1. Violation of Privacy Laws: By recording the conversation without the city manager’s knowledge or consent, Schaefer has violated the privacy rights of the manager, which is illegal under Washington State’s “two-party consent” law.

2. Breach of Trust: Secretly recording a private conversation and then publicly sharing it undermines trust between individuals. It creates an environment of suspicion, erodes relationships, and hinders open and honest communication.

3. Legal Consequences: Sharing the recording on a public platform like Twitter could potentially lead to legal consequences for Schaefer. If the city manager discovers the recording and decides to take legal action, Schaefer may face civil liability and legal penalties for violating the state’s privacy laws.

4. Ethical Considerations: Posting a secret recording without consent is generally considered unethical. It disregards the principles of respect, consent, and privacy. Engaging in such behavior can damage both personal and professional reputations.

5. Negative Impact on Relationships and Reputation: Sharing the recording on Twitter could harm the city manager’s reputation and professional standing. It may also damage Schaefer’s own reputation, as it demonstrates unethical behavior and a lack of respect for privacy rights.

In summary, Schaefer should not have continued recording the conversation without consent after the city council meeting was adjourned, and he should not have posted the recording on Twitter. These actions would violate privacy laws, breach trust, have potential legal consequences, raise ethical concerns, and damage both personal and professional relationships. Respecting privacy, obtaining consent, and adhering to legal and ethical standards when recording and sharing conversations is essential.

I am not a lawyer. I think Schaefer will need one. I do know I dislike being recorded without permission. It’s creepy!

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  1. You should review the legality of recording people in public settings; especially public officials, in public buildings, before and after public meetings. These are major factors that allow for public recording, without expressly required consent. My attorney successfully argued this in court, when I successfully counter sued the City of Burien. You don’t necessarily need public representatives consent in the above instances.

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