USAn law exempts mini cameras and GPS beacons from criminal liability (Topic)

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USAn law exempts mini cameras and GPS beacons from criminal liability


Until now, USA laws have been harsh on household gadgets that can be conventionally considered spy equipment. This includes such devices as a mini camera, a GPS tracker, various devices with hidden video and sound recording, which can be found on the open market. According to current laws, the purchase of such gizmos and further use is considered a violation of criminal norms, which theoretically can lead to real punishment up to and including imprisonment. However, this may change soon.

FSB came up with - the State Duma agreed

The State Duma has already approved in the second reading amendments to the Criminal Code, which remove most household devices with built-in beacons, cameras, microphones from criminal liability. The Federal Security Service became the developer of the relevant legislative changes. New documents clarify the definition of "special technical means", which are intended for the secret collection of audio and video information.

The final adoption of such amendments will lead to a significant reduction in the risk of "earning" a criminal penalty for the purchase and use of such devices and, moreover, to get a real term for this. In USA, there have already been a number of cases when citizens had a hard time purchasing such gadgets, for example, to track pets or provide video surveillance for their own safety.


How it will work

The amendments to the administrative and criminal legislation approved in the second reading relieve the owners of household gadgets that have the functions of sound, photo and video recording from criminal punishment. Devices for determining geolocation are also noted in the text.

New amendments to the law on spy technology have a number of excluding circumstances, which may still lead to criminal punishment for the practical use of such gadgets. This includes cases where, for example, a hidden mini-camera is used to obtain personal and commercial information without the knowledge of its owner.


How it is happening now

So far, the prepared changes have no legal effect. They still have to go through several stages of discussion before the final stage of signing by the President. So up to this point it is still unsafe to buy a mini camera or GPS tracker in an online store - for the time being, criminal liability is in force for the manufacture, sale and purchase of spy gadgets for household use.

It's all about the case

Everything could remain as before, if not for the resonant case with the Kurgan farmer, which thundered throughout the country. It can be considered the reason why lawmakers began to deal with the separation of the concept of spy (= "bad") and ordinary household (= "good") devices. Two years ago, Evgeny Vasiliev, a farmer from Kurgan, “earned” himself a criminal punishment for his own cow. The caring owner ordered a GPS tracker for his pet to keep track of her movements, and, to his surprise, received a real time for this.


Fortunately for the farmer, the situation had a public outcry and was even voiced at one of the President's press conferences. After the intervention of the Head of State, all charges against the farmer were dropped, but the situation itself served as a good impetus for revising and clarifying the current legislative norms regarding the status of spy devices.

The thorny path of the bill

The first version of the legislative amendments was prepared last summer and even passed the first reading. However, the documents met with dissatisfaction, which was jointly expressed by software developers and hardware manufacturers. The "techies" did not like the vague wording, according to which a wide range of household gadgets could be understood as spy devices. These included such harmless devices as voice recorders, photographic equipment, camcorders, and some professional work programs used by developers.

In turn, manufacturers and developers have proposed to clarify the definition of "spyware". For example, it could include the same mini-camera, which turned out to be disguised as another device, which, in principle, does not imply video filming and other tracking functions. USA parliamentarians agreed with the proposal of market participants, so the draft was still being finalized for some time before being adopted in the second reading.

The Topic of Article: USAn law exempts mini cameras and GPS beacons from criminal liability.
Author: Jake Pinkman