August 1, 2012

Summary of statute(s): Mississippi bars the recording, interception, use or disclosure of any oral, telephonic or other 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 hidden camera laws. Violators can face both civil and criminal penalties.

In-person conversations: A person can record an oral communication to which that person is present and participating, or in circumstances where consent to record is given by at least one of the parties, unless the interception was accompanied by a criminal or tortious intent. Miss. Code Ann. § 41-29-531(e).

Electronic communications: The statute prohibits the willful interception of any wire or other communication unless that person is either a participant or has the consent of at least one party to the communication. Miss. Code Ann. § 41-29-531(e). Because the provision of the statute dealing with “wire communications” specifically includes within its definition not only traditional landline telephones, but also “cellular telephones, any mobile telephone, or any communication conducted through the facilities of a provider of communication services,” consent may likewise be required to disclose the contents of text or e-mail messages sent between wireless devices. Miss. Code Ann. § 41-29-501.

Hidden cameras: The state prohibits secretly photographing, filming or producing any images of another person “with lewd, licentious or indecent intent” without that person’s consent while in a fitting room, tanning booth or area where there would be a reasonable expectation of privacy. Miss. Code Ann. § 97-29-63.

Criminal penalties: Illegally intercepting communications can be punished as misdemeanors with jail sentences up to one year and fines of up to $10,000. Miss. Code Ann. § 41-29-533. Disclosing the contents of such intercepted communications is a felony punishable by up to five years imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines. Id. Filming a person in violation of the state’s hidden camera law carries a penalty of up to five years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine, but the maximum jail sentence doubles if the subject being recorded is a child less than 16 years of age. Miss. Code Ann. § 97-29-63.

Civil suits: Anyone whose communications were intercepted, disclosed or used in violation of the state’s wiretapping law can seek damages through a civil suit and may recover both actual and punitive damages, attorney fees and litigation costs. Miss. Code Ann. § 41-29-529.

Disclosing recordings: It is a felony for anyone who is not a law-enforcement officer to disclose the contents of intercepted communications for any reason other than testifying under oath in a governmental or court proceeding. Miss. Code Ann. § 41-29-511.