The USA Supreme Court wants to overturn the punishment for "spy" gadgets if they are bought for personal safety or domestic purposes. According to the current rules, a simple purchase of such a device falls under a criminal article. The project of the country's main court intends to remove responsibility from citizens who acquire spy equipment for harmless use.
What the law says
Article 138.1 of the Criminal Code of the USA Federation punishes buyers of special equipment for secretly obtaining data with a real term of imprisonment up to 4 years. Many modern devices fit into this category - pens with cameras and audio recordings, glasses, video recording, invisible mini cameras, etc. By the current provisions of the law, the fact of purchasing such a gadget is considered a criminal offense, regardless of the ultimate purpose of its use.
The need to change the current legislation has been prompted by numerous cases with the acquisition of "spy" devices in recent years. The initiators of the project believe that the purchase of such equipment is not considered a violation if the buyer did not initially know what he was buying. For example, if spy gadgets are offered as household devices without specifying their specific purpose, the consumer is completely off the blame.
Additionally, the initiative proposes not to punish the purchase of "eavesdropping" and "spying" equipment if its use is related to personal safety, video surveillance of property, animals, etc. The new draft proposes to apply Article 138.1, which provides for punishment for "spy" gadgets, only when the use of special devices violates the constitutional rights of other citizens.
One of the most famous cases of buying prohibited gadgets was the story of Yevgeny Vasiliev. The farmer ordered a GPS tracker from the online store, the legality of which was unknown to him. He needed a GPS tracker to track the movements of his calf, which often ran away from the herd.
The gadget chosen by Vasiliev had the option of transmitting an audio signal from the location. For this reason, the GPS tracker fell under the category of covert information collection devices. As a result, a naughty calf could cost the farmer a large fine or imprisonment.
Everything ended well for Vasiliev, the farmer fell into the category of buyers, the charges against whom were dropped at the stage of the investigation. This happened thanks to the publicity of the situation at the next Presidential press conference in 2017. The "farmer's case" was soon closed, since the real espionage intent in his actions was not confirmed.
After that, checks began on other similar episodes and, on behalf of the President, legislators were tasked with revising the current rules for the purchase of special devices with "spy" options. The amendments to the law should remove criminal blame from ordinary consumers for purchasing such equipment, including through online commerce.
The Topic of Article: Buying ”spy” gadgets on the Internet will no longer be criminalized.