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I have recently moved to Maryland which is an all-party consent state, and I am trying to figure out if I am allowed to wear a body camera to record all my interactions.

I am extremely bad at searching the internet for legal things, so this source is the best I could find. According to the MD section, the law only applies where people would have a reasonable expectation of privacy, so obviously if. I'm at a park or a restaurant, I'd be fine. But what if I'm invited to someone's house? What is the process for obtaining consent? What other situations would I need to do that in?

I would appreciate any advice on how to find this information for myself so I can do that in the future.

Thank you.

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Welcome to Maryland. So sorry you got dragged into our mess.

From my understanding, the law prohibits things like recording phone calls that originate in Maryland without their knowledge. Similarly, you cannot tape conversations in secret unless in private places. The basic rule is to ask. Our cops use body cameras and will ask and will turn them off if recording is refused. Usually, if such is the case, get a recording of the request to turn off the camera recorded, and then turn it off immediately. Baltimore City does have a city wide surveillance system, but there are more practical reasons as to why you don't want to go into Baltimore City with a camera and let people know about it... or just going into Baltimore in general... we're currently the national leaders in homicide (Baltimore County is not Baltimore City, so that's fine.).

I am not a lawyer, so it might be better to call a legal office and ask for advise as a consultation I'm not sure of any specific practices. Also keep in mind that restaurants probably count as private property for the purposes of this law, so it's better to keep the recording areas limited to public streets, sidewalks, parks, and government buildings that are open to the public (town hall meetings and the like... for safety concerns, do not try it at schools during the course of normal business... recording your kids basketball game or pageant solo is fine... but not during the normal school day).

Do you feel comfortable discussing what you intend to use the footage for? Documentary? Humorous pranks? CYA with the Police? Just to further clarify.

  • Thanks for the reply. For my purpose, mainly just looking to cover my bases, if I was witness to a crime or a crime happened to me, my life would be a lot easier if I had a recording. On the restaurant thing, I think private property (not government owned) is different from a place where you would reasonably expect privacy (like your home or a bathroom), but I'd have to do more research. – TechnoSam Oct 3 '18 at 16:04
  • Err on the side of caution with the private property of buisnesses. A lot of malls do post rules banning the use of filming equipment. And while recording a crime in progress could be a crime, I doubt a prosecutor would take you to court over turning the evidence over to them... though do so through a lawyer so they can properly ensure your immune from prosecution or civil action related to any possible "recording crimes" you committed. It's a pretty fair legal bargain to my mind. – hszmv Oct 3 '18 at 16:15
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It would depend on whether it is obvious that you are recording others (and whether this is a private conversation). Where there is no expectation of privacy, the wiretapping laws do not require consent. Consent can also be implied, in particular when you announce that you are recording (and people can shut up and walk away / hang up the phone if they don't like it). See Malpas v. Maryland, 695 A.2d 588 where a neighbor recorded a loud conversation from another apartment.

The other fact to bear in mind is that the law regulates audio recordings, not video recordings (communications, not "interactions"). There are laws limiting how you can video-record, see Md. Crim. Law §§ 3-901 and subsequent sections, but these pertain to surreptitious recording in dressing rooms and similar circumstances.

  • Very interesting, thank you for the reply. Can you share with me your research process for finding those documents? I never know where to search or what to search for. – TechnoSam Oct 3 '18 at 16:05
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    The "insider info" is knowing that this is about "wiretapping". I googled "Maryland wiretap law", and got a reporter's website since they care a lot about this. The more complex part is, I've done this before, so you read many court decisions and discover that there are legal doctrines that are not always clearly stated in the statutory language. – user6726 Oct 3 '18 at 16:54

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