August 1, 2012

There are no specific statutes in Vermont addressing the interception of audio communications, but the state Supreme Court has held that surreptitious electronic monitoring of communications in a person’s home is an unlawful invasion of privacy. Vermont v. Geraw, 795 A.2d 1219 (Vt. 2002). On the other hand, there is no objective, reasonable expectation of privacy in a hospital’s emergency treatment area, through which medical personnel, hospital staff, patients and their families and emergency workers, including police officers, “frequently, and not unexpectedly” freely move, the state high court later held in Vermont v. Rheaume, 889 A.2d 711 (Vt. 2005). Similarly, the recording of a conversation in a parking lot is not unlawful because the conversation was “subject to the eyes and ears of passersby.” Vermont v. Brooks, 601 A.2d 963 (Vt. 1991).

Vermont has a voyeurism statute that criminalizes photographing or recording the “intimate areas” of a person or one engaged in a sexual act in a place where the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, and secretly photographing or recording a person in a place where the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy within a residence, and disclosing any images obtained by these means. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 2605 (2012). The law, however, does not criminalize the use of recording devices for other purposes in areas to which the public has access or there is no reasonable expectation of privacy (i.e., filming conversations on public streets or a hotel lobby).