LDS church supports, others object to bill for secret recording ban

LDS church supporters and others object bill for secret recording ban (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV)- The LDS Church supports it and so does the Greater Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, but opposition is mounting over a Utah bill to make secret recordings illegal.

Right now, Utah is a 'one party consent' state, meaning just one person in a phone or face-to-face conversation must know if the discussion is being recorded.

HB 330, which emerged just a couple of days ago, would change that to 'two-party consent,' where both participants would need to know and give their okay to recording.

Andrew Riggle, of the Disability Law Center, said: "a good chunk of the work" of his organization surrounds complaints about fair housing, which prompt visits by investigators.

"We will often send them with recording devices," he said.

Wednesday, he spoke to the bill's sponsors, Rep. Lowry Snow, R-St. George, and Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, about the value of undercover methods to get the truth.

Both Snow and Weiler listened and said they have no intention of hurting people who are disabled.

"The bill was run at the request of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce," Snow said, who added the measure could protect employers who might be secretly recorded by workers. "After I opened the bill file, and began the process, I did hear from a representative of the (LDS) Church who said they have an interest in it."

The church confirmed its backing on Wednesday.

"Church representatives have spoken with legislators to express support for House Bill 330, which is intended to protect the confidentiality of sensitive private conversations including those between ecclesiastical leaders and their members," Eric Hawkins, LDS Church spokesman, said. "In other states, business, legal, religious and law enforcement organizations have supported similar laws to safeguard confidential conversations for the same reasons."

Still, Weiler said seldom has he seen as much opposition surface only days after the bill was made public.

Snow, an attorney, said he's heard from other lawyers who told him they currently record every phone call. He's also been contacted by anti-domestic violence activists expressing concerns over the proposed ban.

There are currently "exemptions" in HB 330, which would continue to allow one party consent for emergencies, to document crimes, and to record conversations with public officials.

The bill could change, as more people weigh in on the measure. It has not yet had its first public hearing at the Capitol.

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