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A nuanced understanding is sought with regards to the bright-lines + contours of what it means to intercept as it pertains to Florida communications state law. A Google search of interception returns:

the action or fact of receiving electronic transmissions before they reach the intended recipient.

"the clandestine interception of other people's telephone calls"

As a concrete example: Bob is invited to a meeting conducted through Zoom or a telephone call. As an invitee, Bob is entitled to engage the communication system and presumably would not be "intercepting" as he has standing to receive communications. Bob's memory is not particularly good and takes notes as best he can.

Given that Bob has not intercepted the communication and he has:

  1. Engaged an electronic transcription computer program to document the decisions
  2. Recorded the audio to confirm the transcription

Questions: Based on said rules and that Bob has not 'intercepted' communications, as he is the intended recipient:

  1. What if any of said rules does Bob risk running afoul?
  2. Is there any scenario where invited Bob could 'intercept' said communication?

Bonus round: new context

Assume that Bob has standing to attend the virtual meeting and the state indicates that Bob "may tape record or videotape the meeting". Again the same questions:

  1. What if any of said rules does Bob risk running afoul?
  2. Is there any scenario where invited Bob could 'intercept' said communication?
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  • The first link you provide is to Florida state law. Did you mean that you want answers specifically based on Florida law? Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 18:34
  • Yes, All links should be Florida. Thank you.
    – 411
    Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 18:37

2 Answers 2

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The somewhat irritating feature of Florida law on the topic is that you also have to read the definitions in §934.02, because there is a concept of "reasonable expectation of privacy" that attenuates the necessity to get permission. Here are some definitions with emphasis added.

“Oral communication” means any oral communication uttered by a person exhibiting an expectation that such communication is not subject to interception under circumstances justifying such expectation and does not mean any public oral communication uttered at a public meeting or any electronic communication.

Whereas,

“Wire communication” means any aural transfer made in whole or in part through the use of facilities for the transmission of communications by the aid of wire, cable, or other like connection between the point of origin and the point of reception including the use of such connection in a switching station furnished or operated by any person engaged in providing or operating such facilities for the transmission of intrastate, interstate, or foreign communications or communications affecting intrastate, interstate, or foreign commerce.

A Zoom meeting is a wireless communication.

It is generally illegal to "intercept" communications, and then there is a long list of exceptions, such as "with a court order". §934.03(2)a.3(d) is a crucial exception:

It is lawful under this section and ss. 934.04-934.09 for a person to intercept a wire, oral, or electronic communication when all of the parties to the communication have given prior consent to such interception.

So, no consent is necessary if we are dealing with an oral communication and there is no reasonable expectation of privacy (a town hall meeting for example). There are stronger prohibitions against interception when it comes to wire communication: all-party consent is required.

Now we have to scrutinize what it means to intercept:

“Intercept” means the aural or other acquisition of the contents of any wire, electronic, or oral communication through the use of any electronic, mechanical, or other device.

The ordinary language meaning of words tells you that getting a Zoom stream is through the use of an electronic device, that in connecting to a meeting you are acquiring the content of the communication, therefore you need the consent of all parties to the communication.

Obviously this is a bit tricky since you might be technically able to get into a meeting without even the host's permission, and there is certainly no "polling" period where already-connected persons are asked whether to let Bob in. I assume (based on negligible data) that your presence at a meeting in knowable, though details of who you are may be unavailable. The way this is generally handled is via the notion of implied consent (having access to the fact that B now intercepts the communication, and not then shutting up / leaving / objecting). As far as "interception" is concerned, pretty much anything between the computer sound output device and the listener's brain would be interception. It would include hearing aids, but there is a specific exception for hearing aids (by limiting the definition of “Electronic, mechanical, or other device”, so that telephones are not such things (obviously they are electronic devices), and hearing aids are not such devices, as long as it is

A hearing aid or similar device being used to correct subnormal hearing to not better than normal

(In other words, not something that allows you to hear background stuff that requires technological intervention to amplify).

If the Florida courts follow the "implied consent" pattern for Zoom meetings, as seems most likely, then you have implicit permission to listen, and to record. There is the possibility that you will run afoul of copyright law, by copying protected material: it depends on whether e.g. there is a canned text being read.

The point is, Florida law doesn't have complex exceptions regarding "interception", it has complications regarding when it is forbidden, and whether something is a "communication" of the relevant type.

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What if any of said rules does Bob risk running afoul?

None. By making a recording after the communication has left the Zoom/phone speakers he has not intercepted it during the course of its transmission.  I cannot find any relevant Floridian case law, but the England and Wales case R v E 2004 rules on a similar situation where a police "bug" in a car recorded someone using a mobile phone.

...the natural meaning of the expression 'interception' denotes some inference or abstraction of the signal, whether it is passing along wires or by wireless telegraphy, during the process of transmission.

...

What being recorded was not the transmission but the words of the accused taken from the sound waves in the car.

Is there any scenario where invited Bob could 'intercept' said communication?

By, for example, with intent to intercept the communication he intentionally uses a device that is affixed to, or transmits a signal through, the phone line or ethernet cable contrary to 934.03 (1) of the cited statute. (In other words, he hacks in to the phone line.)

(However, there may be privacy laws to consider outside of the scope of the question.)

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