Yesterday’s hearing on proposed changes to New Hampshire’s RSA 570-A, the wiretapping statute, did not take long to become a symposium on Robin Hooding. With the first mention of the practice coming from the bureaucratic spokesperson Ann Rice, representing the Attorney General’s office, two Robin Hooders present (myself and Ian Freeman) also spoke on the bill. The president of the American Federation of Teachers’ New Hampshire chapter, Laura Hainey, denounced Robin Hooders while speaking at the hearing, and even went to so as to fear monger that the Robin Hooders would multiply if negligible codifications to the law were effected.
Essentially, the house bill 1550 is a well intentioned piece of legislation that ultimately changes nothing about the current law. It does attempt to clarify it from its current convoluted and confusing state. For example, the word ‘consent’ appears in the law, yet reading the letter of the law, nothing more than relaying the knowledge that one is being recorded is necessary to make fully legal an audio recording in a setting where one is lawfully permitted to be outside of explicitly public settings. Despite this, even the representative from the attorney general’s office, Ann Rice, continuously referred to the current law as requiring consent from all parties to produce audio recordings.
During my own testimony, I told the story of my own camera being robbed from my person without cause. I also stressed to committee members how their legal attack on the ability of civilians to create objective records is a criminalization of some of the most courageous forms of journalism and investigative reporting. Soon, New Hampshire will be a one party state, but unfortunately more people may be imprisoned, have their homes tossed or their electronics stolen from them while we await the full legalization of audio recording in the state.
Since Laura from the Teacher’s federation had some unkind and untruthful things to say about Robin Hooders during her testimony, I took the opportunity to ambush interview her in the hallway. When I asked her where she had heard some of the distasteful lies about Robin Hooders that she was perpetuating, she all of the sudden was at a loss for words, and B-lined for the nearest occupied committee room to hide from the camera. How hard would it have been to have said, “Perhaps I am wrong”? May she do more research on organizations and individuals she plans to rebuke next time around.