Is Recording Someone Legal? Well, It Depends.

As a mom, I always worry about my kids. Especially when they’re not with me. Of course I want to spend a lot of time with them. But, every second their whole life isn’t possible. Sometimes I’d love to be able to see what they’re doing when I’m not around. I guess that sounds a little creepy. But, I know quite a few moms who use mommy cams. But, is recording someone legal? Well, it depends. 

Disclosure: I am not a lawyer. I have absolutely no previous experience in  the “law field.” All information below is information I’ve acquired through research and speaking to law professionals. This is just for personal informational purposes only.

During college, I took on quite a few side jobs. Side jobs that included being a nanny. I pet sat as well. One of my nanny jobs as well as one of my pet sitting assignments included cameras. I know this for sure. The home owners were up front with me. They told me they recorded activity in their homes 24/7. This is something I consented to. I’ve never had a personal problem with someone recording me. I mean, of course, as long as I know. It would just be creepy to me that someone is watching me and I have no idea. Thankfully all my clients have always been up front with me.

I’m sure the question has crossed your mind quite a few times. Especially if you’re a mom.

Is recording people legal?

Well, here in the United States, there are 38 states that allow the “one party consent.” Which allows the conversation to be recorded as long as at least one person consents. That one person can be the person that is recording the conversation. As long as they are part of the conversation.

recording someone legal

Let’s start with what the United States law considers “illegal.”

  • It is illegal to record a conversation that at least one consenting party is not a part of. Example: Two individuals are having a conversation. You record the conversation that you’re not a part of. Neither individual gave you the okay to record them. This is illegal.
  • You can not hack into a telephone line if you want to hear conversations that were previously recorded.
  • You can not pretend to be someone you’re not in order to get someone else’s phone records.

These are the Federal guidelines if you are thinking about is it legal to record someone or not. But, each state carries their own set of laws in regards to recording someone.

States That Require ALL Parties To Consent To Being Recorded

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • Pennsylvania
  • Washington

In order for a telephone company to record a phone conversation, they have a few rules to follow, too.

The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has a few laws that it requires telephone companies to follow in order to record a conversation:

  • Prior oral and/or oral consent saying that all parties agree to be recorded.
  • A notification, prior to the conversation starting, that the conversation is being recorded.
  • A beep tone throughout the conversation. Both parties must be able to hear the tone.  This lets all parties know that the conversation is still being recorded.

So, is recording someone legal?

To sum it up, recording someone, in most states in the United States, is legal as long as you’re part of the conversation. Also, as long as you consent to the recording.

But, keep in mind: not all states follow the “one consent” agreement. Some require all parties to be aware that they are being recorded. You will have to check with your state.

As a mom, I always want to know what my kids are up to. But, I don’t think I’d ever want anyone uncomfortable. That’s why I’m so thankful for the technology today. I may not be able to see every movement my kids make. But, the people they are with are always kind enough to snap a picture or video and send it to my phone. Have you ever done the whole “nanny cam” thing? Either for a sitter or a pet sitter? Did you inform your sitter? I’d love to hear some funny “nanny cam” stories, too! With all the sad stuff going on in the world today, a happy story is always appreciated.