Legal issues - translation of private phone calls & correspondence
Thread poster: Hendarto Setiadi

Hendarto Setiadi  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 14:03
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Sep 19, 2008

A new client asked me to transcribe and translate recordings of private phone calls and photocopies of personal correspondence of somebody who appears to be an inmate in a US correctional facility.

Is it common practice to have such material translated into English, and are there any legal issues I should be aware of?

Best regards,
Hendarto


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Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:03
Spanish to English
+ ...
Be careful of privacy laws! Sep 19, 2008

There are certain privacy laws here in the United States. Generally, transcribing/recording phone calls is prohibited unless everyone involved knows. As I remember, there must be a valid reason as well.

Hendarto Setiadi wrote:

A new client asked me to transcribe and translate recordings of private phone calls and photocopies of personal correspondence of somebody who appears to be an inmate in a US correctional facility.

Is it common practice to have such material translated into English, and are there any legal issues I should be aware of?

Best regards,
Hendarto


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Rick Henry  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:03
Italian to English
+ ...
Varies from state to state. Sep 19, 2008

Srta Sara wrote:

There are certain privacy laws here in the United States. Generally, transcribing/recording phone calls is prohibited unless everyone involved knows. As I remember, there must be a valid reason as well.

Actually, that varies from state to state. Some states allow it, others do not.

R.
==


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Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:03
Spanish to English
+ ...
That's why I said 'generally' Sep 19, 2008

True, Rick. There are state-to-state variations, like with other laws. That's why I described it as 'generally.'

Rick Henry wrote:

Srta Sara wrote:

There are certain privacy laws here in the United States. Generally, transcribing/recording phone calls is prohibited unless everyone involved knows. As I remember, there must be a valid reason as well.

Actually, that varies from state to state. Some states allow it, others do not.

R.
==


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xxx1279
Local time: 03:03
I think it is common. Sep 19, 2008

Hendarto Setiadi wrote:

Is it common practice to have such material translated into English...?


I've heard of many translators who do this kind of work in the United States. I don't know anything about the legal aspect of the issue, but it seems natural that the government would monitor calls and mail from inmates. How else could they make sure they weren't running criminal operations while incarcerated?

It would be interesting to hear from someone who knows more about this.


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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 03:03
Spanish to English
+ ...
Maybe, but ... Sep 19, 2008

Clare Corado wrote:
...
I've heard of many translators who do this kind of work in the United States. I don't know anything about the legal aspect of the issue, but it seems natural that the government would monitor calls and mail from inmates. How else could they make sure they weren't running criminal operations while incarcerated?


... but I would have thought that the translation of any such material would be bound up in reams of red tape including, for example, clear information to the translator of the circumstances. That seems not to be the case here.

If I were to receive such an offer, I would want written assurance regarding the legitimacy of the job. Not to mention guarantees regarding my safety if there is any risk associated with the people concerned.

MediaMatrix


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Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons)
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
Yes, but... Sep 19, 2008

...if you live in Indonesia, as I understand from your profile, how can U.S. laws apply to you?

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Hendarto Setiadi  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 14:03
English to Indonesian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all! Sep 19, 2008

Your responses indicate that this may be a legitimate request. I will ask the client for a written assurance as suggested by mediamatrix. My main concern is not to get involved in any illegal activities, albeit unwittingly. Thanks once again!

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:03
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
My thoughts as well Sep 19, 2008

Giuseppina Gatta wrote:
...if you live in Indonesia, as I understand from your profile, how can U.S. laws apply to you?


I had the same thought. Perhaps the OP meant "unethical" instead of "illegal".


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CFK TRAD  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:03
English to French
+ ...
You may want to ask a lwayer anyway. Sep 19, 2008

Dear all,

To answer Clare's post, in fact, I have translated many letters from inmates in correctional facilities in France - but I had always a warrant / order from either the DA, or the Correctional Judge, so that I was legally bound to translate. Then, I cannot be prosecuted for breaching the laws on privacy or anything. And, of course, the one I give the translation to is either the DA, or the Judge or the Police, not a person I don't know!

As a lawyer (I mean here a French lawyer, I'm sorry, this post may thus seem irrelevant as far as the US law is concerned, but maybe it can also help fellows to have a clearer view), I'd like to point out the following:

* Until and unless you have a court order, a warrant, a judicial order or whatever, from the judiciary, and/or the Police, you should be careful. Most of the times, the two persons who can ask for a private document to be translated are the one who send the document and the one who receives (and, of course, their agents, nominees, etc). But a third party has no right to do it - and you can thus be liable...

* Furthermore, you don't know what you have in these letters and phone calls etc. You might (unwillingly, of course !) get involved in something illegal. Since you have not seen the materials, you have no means to know what the consequences of the translation will be. And, now, nobody can tell.

Since there are many points which are still unknown, I'd strongly suggest you to ask a lawyer. You may want to ask a lawyer in your country and/or in the State where the client is. You may post your query on a lawyer's website.
I would not, personally, proceed to translation without a legal opinion from a lawyer in my country AND a lawyer from the client's country.

I know it may seem to have almost a "cowardly" attitude, but remerber that if you translate a material about, say, drug dealing, written by an inmate in jail and that the client (the one who finally gets the translation) is another drug dealer in another country, you can be in trouble!

I hope this helps...

Best

Coralie.


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Hendarto Setiadi  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 14:03
English to Indonesian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Assurance from client Sep 19, 2008

Update: I just received assurance from the outsourcer that the translation of the material is legal, their client being a federal body entitled to monitor the communication of inmates.

Thanks again for all your comments and have a nice weekend!


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Legal issues - translation of private phone calls & correspondence

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