Nev. Rev. Stat. § 200.690, allows a plaintiff to bring a civil action against a person who unlawfully eavesdropped on his/her private conversation as provided in Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 200.620 and 200.650. While Nev. Rev. Stat. § 200.620 is specific to private conversations conducted over telephone or other forms of wire communication and requires consent of both parties to a conversation, § 200.650 applies to private conversations performed in-person and only requires the consent of one party to the conversation.1 It is not clear from the statute or case law whether the recording of sexual activity without accompanying conversation would be actionable under this statute, nor is it apparent to what extent phone calls made via cellular phone, Skype or other internet-based means are covered. It is also unclear whether text messaging is covered by the statute.
A victim may be able to bring a civil suit against a person who published his/her private, intimate images for violation of Nev. Rev. Stat. § 200.650 if, for example, the images were recorded on video and included a conversation between the victim and another person. In order to be able to pursue this cause of action under Nev. Rev. Stat. § 200.650, however, the person who recorded the victim must not have been a party to the victim’s conversation.
Text of the Statute
Nev. Rev. Stat. § 200.620
(a) The interception or attempted interception is made with the prior consent of one of the parties to the communication; and
(b) An emergency situation exists and it is impractical to obtain a court order as required by NRS 179.410 to 179.515, inclusive, before the interception, in which event the interception is subject to the requirements of subsection 3. If the application for ratification is denied, any use or disclosure of the information so intercepted is unlawful, and the person who made the interception shall notify the sender and the receiver of the communication that:
(1) The communication was intercepted; and
(2) Upon application to the court, ratification of the interception was denied.”2
Nev. Rev. Stat. § 200.630
“1. Except as otherwise provided in NRS 179.410 to 179.515, inclusive, and 704.195, a person shall not disclose the existence, content, substance, purport, effect or meaning of any wire or radio communication to any person unless authorized to do so by either the sender or receiver.
Nev. Rev. Stat. § 200.650
“Except as otherwise provided in NRS 179.410 to179.515, inclusive, and 704.195, a person shall not intrude upon the privacy of other persons by surreptitiously listening to, monitoring or recording, or attempting to listen to, monitor or record, by means of any mechanical, electronic or other listening device, any private conversation engaged in by the other persons, or disclose the existence, content, substance, purport, effect or meaning of any conversation so listened to, monitored or recorded, unless authorized to do so by one of the persons engaging in the conversation.”3
Research is ongoing.
In Lane v. Allstate Ins. Co., the Nevada Supreme Court clarified some of the ambiguities inherent in Nevada’s eavesdropping statute. First, the Court held that “person” as used in Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 200.610 to 200.690, means any person and is not restricted to government officials.4 Second, it observed that based on the legislative history of Nev. Rev. Stat. § 200.620, it appears that the legislative intent when writing, and later amending, this statute, was to prohibit the unilateral recording of a telephone conversation without obtaining the other party’s consent.5 Lastly, the Court noted that a comparison of Nev. Rev. Stat. § 200.620 with § 200.650 indicates that the legislature seemed to be more concerned with the recording of telephone conversations than with conversations conducted in person. According to the Court:
“In NRS 200.650, the legislature prohibited surreptitious intrusion upon in-person, private conversations by means of any listening device, but specifically added the language ‘unless authorized to do so by one of the persons engaging in the conversation.’ If the legislature had wanted to create that limitation in NRS 200.620, it would have done so. It seems apparent that the legislature believed that intrusion upon Nevadans' privacy by nonconsensual recording of telephone conversations was a greater intrusion than the recording of conversations in person.”6
The Court held that excluding the exceptions noted in Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 179.410 to 179.515 (applicable in situations involving the recording of telephone conversations by law enforcement officials), in order for a person to legally record a telephone conversation in Nevada under Nev. Rev. Stat. § 200.620, the person must obtain consent from both parties to the conversation.7 However, intrusion on a private, in-person conversation only requires the consent of one party.8
A plaintiff suing under this statute may recover attorney’s fees.
A defendant in an eavesdropping civil suit may also be criminally liable.
Lane v. Allstate Ins. Co., 969 P.2d 938, 940 (Nev. 1998) ↩
Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 620 (LexisNexis 2011). ↩
Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 200.650 (LexisNexis 2011). ↩
See Id. at 940. ↩
Id. at 940-41 (noting that during discussion of A.B. 188, a bill that would have allowed law enforcement officials to tape-record telephone conversations with only one party’s consent, both those in favor and against the bill spoke as if the current law required the consent of both parties). ↩
Id. at 940. ↩
Id. at 941. ↩
Id. at 940. ↩