August 1, 2012

Summary of statute(s): Kentucky bars the recording, interception, use or disclosure of any oral or telephonic communication by means of any mechanical or electronic device without the consent of at least one party to the conversation. The state also prohibits the recording and disclosure of images intercepted in violation of its voyeurism laws. Violators can face criminal penalties.

In-person conversations: It is a felony to overhear or record, through use of an electronic or mechanical device, an oral communication without the consent of at least one party to that communication. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 526.020.

Electronic communications: Similarly, the statute makes it a felony to intercept any telephone communication without the consent of at least one party. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 526.010.

Hidden cameras: It is a misdemeanor to use a hidden camera or any image-recording device to view, photograph or film a person who is nude or performing sexual conduct without the person’s consent in a place where the person has a reasonable expectation such filming would not take place. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 531.090.

Criminal penalties: Recording or intercepting private communications in violation of the state’s eavesdropping law, or distributing images in violation of the state’s video voyeurism law are felony offenses punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 532.060, 534.030. Violations of the state’s hidden camera laws or distributing information obtained illegally through eavesdropping are misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail and a $500 fine. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 532.090, 534.040.

Disclosing recordings: Using or divulging information obtained in violation of the state’s eavesdropping law is a misdemeanor. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 526.060. Further, it is a felony to take visual images of a person while in the nude and either divulging or distributing the images via e-mail, the Internet or a commercial online service. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 531.100. Anyone who inadvertently hears a conversation transmitted through a wireless telephone and proceeds to pass the contents of the communication onto others without the consent of a party to the original conversation violates the eavesdropping statute. Ky. Att’y Gen. Op. 84-310 (1984).