Let’s face it. Nothing is private anymore. If you use Face book,
most of your friends probably share their most intimate, as well as their
most mundane moments with you and the rest of their virtual world. We
live in no ordinary time.
So, what happened in New Jersey this past September when two freshmen secretly
placed a camera in a dorm room and broadcasted a live feed of a fellow
student’s "sexual encounter" on the internet, raise important
issues in criminal law - issues that affect our criminal defense practice here at
Sullivan & Brill, LLP.
In New York, PL §250 addresses offenses against the right to privacy.
These offenses continue to evolve with the times. Included in this section
are charges involving eavesdropping and wiretapping.
http://law.onecle.com/new-york/penal/PEN0250.05_250.05.html. Usually, a charge like this existed when one was accused of tapping another’s
phone (perhaps by an estranged lover), unknown to the parties engaged
in the phone conversation. Also, most states, including New York, have
enacted laws that make it a crime to surveil, and disseminate that surveillance.
These offenses usually involve the surveillance of something sexual in
nature such as, "peeping toms" or voyeurs for their own deviant
enjoyment. Given the immense popularity of You Tube, My Space, and the
ubiquitous web cams and mini digital cameras in the market, the ease with
which one can upload or stream a video - any video - is staggering. So,
it is not surprising that we are seeing an increase in these types of
dissemination cases. Indeed, it is exactly this type of dissemination
crime that the prosecutors in New Jersey on the Rutgers case are basing
And what is the appropriate punishment? Some prosecutors have made rumblings
that if the victim of this unlawful surveillance reacts in a way that
leads to self-inflicted injury or suicide then the appropriate charge
could be a lot worse than an offense against privacy