Telephone Recording Laws: The Basics

We get a lot of questions regarding the legality issues of call recording. Your best option is to always ask your legal advisor, but it’s important to have a basic understanding of the general telephone recording laws.

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There are two sets of telephone recording laws; there are the laws that pertain to the government recording civilian calls, formally known as wiretapping. We are not a government entity and these laws do not apply to us. The laws we adhere to are the laws that apply to the civilian recording of calls.

What makes telephone recording laws a bit tricky is that the laws differ by location, and each country abides by its own set of rules and regulations. For example, according to Wikipedia, Canadian law mandates that at the very least, one party on the line be made aware that a recording is taking place.

Again, it is highly recommended you seek assistance from your legal adviser. This is only a brief overview of general state laws and not intended as legal counsel.

In the United States, the law again varies, this time on state laws and regulations. Each state will generally fall into one of two categories: an ‘all-party notification’ state or a ‘one-party notification’ state.

‘All-party notification’ states are the states that adhere to the stricter of the two laws; this law mandates that all parties involved in the conversation must consent to the recording. There are 11 states that abide by this law; they are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

The remaining states not listed above fall into the ‘one-party notification’ classification. In these states, only one party is required to give consent to record, sometimes even if that one party is the one initiating the recording. It is within these states that one may not be aware of a call recording taking place and where that is a legal action.

It’s important to note that while two states may both adhere to the same law, each state may interpret the law differently. This is why it is highly recommended you seek legal counsel from a professional in your state for more information.

Next week, we will look at the wording of these laws and what it means for you.