CAN I RECORD PHONE CONVERSATIONS?

Many of us will remember the days when we could not record a phone conversation without informing the person being recorded, that we were recording them, and we were required to periodically remind the speaker that the recording continued. Some answering machines were sold with a “record” button that repeated a “beep” every few seconds to act as a reminder that the conversation was being recorded.

The State of Illinois, and many other states had such a law. Illinois had that law until March of 2014 when the Illinois Supreme Court found it unconstitutional. The Court found that where there was no legitimate privacy interest in a spoken word (such as in a phone conversation), that to criminalize recording that speech – was unconstitutional, as was the law criminalizing it. So, yes, according to that Illinois Supreme Court decision, you have the right to record a phone conversation you are having with someone without telling that person, and do so without being in jeopardy of violating Illinois criminal law.

That Illinois Supreme Court decision has decriminalized a party to a phone call, recording that phone conversation in this state – but be careful! There may be other laws that make such a recording dangerous: such as the law in the state where the subject being recorded is speaking. Federal law will still be subject to the “one-party” consent rule, meaning that wiretapping of private conversations is illegal. Secret recordings (where only one party is aware of the recording) may not be criminally illegal, but they might serve as the basis of a civil suit for invasion of privacy.

And in an area similar to this subject, it still remains illegal to videotape someone where they have an expectation of privacy, such as in tanning rooms, motel rooms, changing rooms, or locker rooms.

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