Is it legal to record phone calls? That's the BIG question that you should address to avoid problems with the law. Before you hit that recording button, you should find out and learn about something called CALL RECORDING LAWS in your jurisdiction.
Laws on recording phone calls are there to protect individuals from unwanted or unauthorized recording. Ultimately, recording a call secretly is a violation of personal privacy and confidentiality. If someone were recording you without your knowledge, you will definitely feel uncomfortable with it.
So, is it legal to record phone calls? Read on to find out about more.
Is it illegal to record someone in a phone call without their consent?
In some countries, you may record a conversation for various purposes such as for protection or as a keepsake, and the conversation may be recorded without the consent of the other party. In other parts of the world, it may be completely illegal and you could get sued or arrested.
When it comes to call recording laws, the most important nuance is to find out is, whether you require recording consent from ONE party, or ALL parties involved in a telephone call or phone conversation.
If you need consent from only one party, this is known as a "One-party consent". In the below sections, we will explain the differences between "One-party consent" and "Two-party consent" laws.
One-party consent laws
One-party consent laws are simple to understand and navigate. Under a one-party consent law, you are permitted to record a telephone call or phone conversation as long as at least ONE PARTY gives explicit consent to record the call.
For example, you are in a phone call as Caller A, and there may be any number of other parties in the call.. Caller B, Caller C, Caller D and so on. As long as you are one of the parties involved in the the conversation, and you provide permission for this, then you will be immediately able to record the call. That is because only one party's consent is needed.
In a different scenario- if you are NOT one of the parties involved in the conversation, the one-party consent law will still permit you to record the telephone call or phone conversation, as long as any one of the parties explicitly agrees to the recording and gives you full consent to perform the recording.
Two-party consent laws
Two-party consent laws, despite the name suggests, requires the consent of every single party involved in the telephone call or phone conversation. Unlike what the name suggests, it does not mean that you need two parties to agree to the call recording.
An example would be this- if there is a call involving Callers F, G, H and I, the call MAY only be recorded, if all parties, Caller F, Caller G, Caller H and Caller I, each and individually provide their explicit permission for the call recording to be permitted.
In the scenario where Caller F, Caller G, Caller H agrees to the call recording, but Caller I was not informed of the recording or disagrees to the recording, then the recording should not happen and will not stand lawful.
Is it illegal to record someone in your state? Check your Local State Laws
California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington are states that have Two-party consent laws, requiring permission from every party to the call (as explained above).
However, state laws on recording phone calls are constantly changing and may have updated policies that can affect your intention to record calls.
For that reason, we will urge readers to always check for the most updated call recording laws for by state, to be very sure before performing any call recording.
What about the Law of Confidential Information?
The law of confidential information something that is usually brought up when discussing call recording laws. However, it is seen only as a useful guideline and not an explicit call recording law.
It is used to protect sensitive material where it cannot be completely safeguarded with intellectual property rights. The idea behind it is- person who is given some information in confidence, may not use it or disclose it without permission from the person who shared the information. Doing so would result in a breach of confidence.
In other countries like Singapore, the law of confidence is recognized and is helpful to create a clear understanding whether or not unauthorized recording is allowed. In section 6 of the Copyright Act (Cap 63, 2006 Rev Ed) in Singapore: ‘Nothing in this Act shall affect the operation of the law relating to breaches of trust or confidence.’
In other countries, you will still need to check your Local State Laws.
Can I get arrested under Call Recording Laws / Law of Confidential Information?
Yes, you may be arrested if you violate local Call Recording Laws.
For Law of Confidential Information however, you will not be arrested outright, but the other party can choose to sue you if you perform a breach of confidence.
Read on to find out how you may be sued under Law of Confidential Information.
What about getting sued under Law of Confidential Information?
Yes, you can get sued under the Law of Confidential Information. For you to be sued, there are some accompanying requirements that must be fulfilled with respect to the data given in the discussion in the phone call.
(1) the data must be of value and confidential
(2) the data was shared in confidence
(3) there must be unauthorized or unapproved utilization of the data, against the individual who shared the data to you.
How to determine if the data is confidential?
In the event that your recorded phone call contains information like general gossip, and chit chat, the law will not recognize this as confidential information.
However, if the information identifies with technical or commercial and personal matters, it has to satisfy these conditions to be considered as confidential information:
- The information must not be known by the general public
- The information must be specific or related to the person who shared it in confidence, regardless of whether other people are able to obtain the same information
- The disclosure of the data will harm the person who shared it in confidence, or benefit others in a way that it will decrease the benefits of the person who shared it in confidence
- The private data harms or violate the personal privacy of the person
Conclusion: Not sure what law to follow? Use THIS APP instead
If you are still unsure whether whether it illegal to record someone without their consent, this can be solved by using the Re-Call Recorder app, which has a unique feature known as the "Recording consent announcement".
The "Recording consent announcement" will automatically help to warn or notify users of the call recording. At the beginning of every call, there will be a short voice pre-recorded message that reads aloud: "THIS IS TO NOTIFY YOU THAT THIS CALL MAY BE RECORDED". That way, Re-Call Recorder app takes on the work of helping you inform the parties in the call.
If you are not thinking of getting permissions and don't care if its legal to record phone calls, you can also set it to OFF, which means the app will work just like any other call recording app. The free Re-Call Recorder app can be used for for recording phone calls with or without the spoken announcement, but we highly recommend that you check your respective law on recording phone calls to be sure.