August 1, 2012

Summary of statute(s): An individual may record or disclose the contents of a wire, oral or electronic communication if he or she is a party to the communication or has received prior consent from one of the parties. The state prohibits the use of cameras to observe private activities without the consent of all parties involved, and also prohibits disclosure of the contents of illegally obtained recordings. However, Georgia carves out an exception, allowing the parents of minor children to intercept private telephonic and electronic communications without consent.

In-person conversations: An individual can record oral conversations where either the person is a party to the conversation or at least one of the participants has consented to the recording. Ga. Code Ann. § 16-11-66(a). The Georgia Court of Appeals, however, interpreted the statute to require the consent of all parties with respect to video recording in private circumstances. See Gavin v. State, 664 S.E.2d 797 (Ga. Ct. App. 2008). State law also prohibits trespassing on private property to eavesdrop or secretly observe activities of another. Ga. Code Ann. § 16-11-62(3).

Electronic communications: Similarly, a person who is either a participant in a telephone or other electronic communication, or with consent from one of the participants, is allowed to record or intercept any such communication. Ga. Code Ann. § 16-11-66(a). The state’s wiretapping and eavesdropping statutes specifically allow for the secret recording or listening to telephone conversations of minor children without consent for the purpose of ensuring their welfare. Ga. Code Ann. § 16-11-66(d).

Hidden cameras: The state prohibits the use of a camera “without the consent of all persons observed, to observe, photograph, or record the activities of another which occur in any private place and out of public view.” Ga. Code Ann. § 16-11-62(2).

Criminal penalties: Violation of any provisions of the wiretapping statute carries a penalty of imprisonment between one and five years or a fine of up to $10,000. Ga. Code Ann. § 16-11-69.

Disclosing recordings: It is illegal for any person to divulge or distribute to any person the content or substance of any private message, photograph or communication without the consent of all parties involved. Ga. Code Ann. § 16-11-62(6). However, Georgia specifically allows the parents of minor children to disclose the contents of secretly intercepted telephone conversations or any electronic communication to a district attorney or law enforcement officer if the parent has a good faith belief that the communication is evidence of criminal conduct involving the child as a victim. Ga. Code Ann. § 16-11-66(d).