Someone Is Watching!

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," August 15, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: "Back of the Book" segment tonight. Forty-eight-year-old Douglas Dinn of Humble, Texas, under arrest, charged with using photographs to photograph customers at his tanning salon. Customers who were undressed.

All over the country, small cameras are intruding on the privacy of Americans, sometimes embarrassing them, sometimes hurting them in the marketplace.

Joining us now from Philadelphia, Scott Vernick, an attorney specializing in privacy rights.

All right, this Humble, Texas, thing. Guy has a strip mall tanning center. You go in their, pay him the thing. You go in the bed. They close the door. And he's got some little camera hooked up seeing everything you do.

Now authorities have charged him and I guess if you were a customer and you were on his Web site or in his video camera, you could sue him, correct?

SCOTT VERNICK, PRIVACY RIGHTS ATTORNEY: I think that's right, Bill. I mean, unfortunately, this is the seamy underside of basically having too much technology, which for the most part improves our lives or improves our work.

But the actions you could take sort of fall into a number of buckets. I mean, one, there is a federal statute, which criminalizes this kind of activity on federal property. There are today 44 states that have laws against video voyeurs such as in this particular instance. And, generally, in those states, those crimes are felonies.

O'REILLY: In Texas, improper videotaping is a felony. But what is improper videotaping? Because I think everybody should be aware of this thing. You go into a department store. You try on some clothing, OK? You're in a little booth. You know how it goes.


O'REILLY: If somebody working in that store puts a camera, as we're seeing right now — this is real video — all right. Now that's a felony, right? You have an expectation of privacy, correct?

VERNICK: Yes. I think the way in which the statutes read is that one, it's the filming of private parts in the majority of cases in a place or space in which you have an expectation of privacy or I think the words in the statute are usually a reasonable expectation of privacy. And certainly, most people who go into a department store changing room, Bill, or who go into a tanning salon do not think that their privacy.

O'REILLY: They have a reasonable expectation that they will be alone.

VERNICK: That's right.

O'REILLY: Now here's a case. In Huntington Beach, California, a guy in his own house got all this high-tech equipment and was actually videotaping people in the neighborhood, taking showers and things like that. William David Brown pleaded guilty. It was a misdemeanor, electronic peeping charges.

Now again, can you sue Brown and can you say, "Look, you caused me mental anguish. I don't trust anybody. I'm suing you for $50 million." In addition to the criminal charges, you can get him that way, right?

VERNICK: That's right, you can actually in California, which is one of the most protective states, Bill. You can sue him in probably at least three ways. One, there's a California statute or a law right on the books, which makes such kind of videotapes or filming prohibitive, and you can sue him for damages. You could also sue him for a private tort of intrusion, and you can probably sue him for intentional affliction of emotional distress.

O'REILLY: It's so hard to know these guys are doing this. That's the thing. It's almost impossible to know unless they make a mistake.

And the last thing I have here. Everybody has got the cell phone and takes a camera now. Can somebody just walk up — say if you're at the beach in a bathing suit — and somebody starts to click your picture on the beach. Public beach, can they do that?

VERNICK: Yes. I think once you get to a public beach, I think it's probably a much more wide-open area.

But I will tell you this, that if what people are doing is really taking pictures of private parts, and the intent is clear, I think that a lot of states that have laws, you know, such as down-blousing or up-skirting, those are probably going to come into play. And those people who are doing that may have some liability.

In addition, Bill, let me say that, again, if you take those pictures and you use them for any commercial exploitation, that's obviously the misappropriation of someone's identity without their consent and that opens up another area.

O'REILLY: Right. So I think people should be aggressive. If you feel that you've been spied upon or taken your picture in a wrong way, you should contact the counselor, somebody like him, and take action. Thanks, Counselor.

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