While it's not very common, there may come a time when you feel the need to record phone or in-person conversation. Maybe your child is being bullied over the phone, and you want to gather evidence to take to the police. Possibly you're pursuing a divorce, and you're seeking proof of an affair or illegal activities. Perhaps you're working with creditors, and you want to record your conversations. You might not think twice about hitting record on your recording device or mobile app, but did you know that what you're doing might be illegal?
Each state has its laws surrounding the recording of phone calls. In some states, there are single-party consent laws. This means that just one party has to consent to the recording. In other words, as long as one person knows the conversation is being recorded, it can be recorded without alerting the other party.
In other states, however, there are two-party consent laws. The name of the law is a bit misleading, however. Under two-party consent laws, every party must consent to the recording, even if there are more than two. This prevents you from recording someone without their knowledge. It's important to note that recording police officers or other public officials may have different laws based on the state in which you are recording.
As of January 2019, there are 16 states with two-party consent laws in place. These states are:
- Montana* (Requires notification only)
- New Hampshire
*These states have special provisions regarding two-party consent laws. Please check the state's specific rules.
In some states, there are exceptions to the law. In Hawaii, two-party consent is only required if the recording device is installed in a public area. In Connecticut, two-party laws do not apply if the person doing the recording is involved in the conversation.