August 1, 2012

Summary of statute(s): Maine bars the recording, interception, use or disclosure of any oral or telephonic communication by means of any mechanical or electronic device without the consent of at least one party to the conversation. The state also prohibits the recording and disclosure of images intercepted in violation of its privacy laws. Violators can face both civil and criminal penalties.

In-person conversations: A person cannot tape a private conversation with any device unless he is in the range of normal unaided hearing, a participant in the conversation or consent to record was given by at least one of the parties to the conversation. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 15, § 710.

Electronic communications: Similarly, the statute prohibits the willful or intentional interception of any telephone or wire communication absent the consent of at least one party to the communication. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 15, § 710.

Hidden cameras: The state’s privacy law makes it a Class D crime to use a camera in areas where one may reasonably expect to be safe from video surveillance, “including, but not limited to, changing or dressing rooms, bathrooms and similar places.” Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17-A, §511. The law also prohibits the concealed visual surveillance in public areas of an individual’s body either under or through that person’s clothing without that person’s knowledge or consent. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17-A, §511(D).

Criminal penalties: Illegally recording or disclosing the contents of an oral or telephone conversation is a Class C crime punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17-A, §§ 1251, 1301. Violation of the state’s privacy law is a Class D crime punishable by a jail sentence of less than one year and a $2,000 fine. Id.

Civil suits: Anyone whose communications have been intercepted can sue for civil damages and recover the greater of $100 a day for each day of violation or actual damages, and also attorney fees and litigation costs. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 15, § 711.

Disclosing recordings: Disclosure of the contents of intercepted communications, knowing the information was obtained by interception, is a Class C violation of the criminal code. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 15, § 710.