Oklahoma

Date: 
August 1, 2012

Summary of statute(s): An individual who is a party to either an in-person conversation or electronic communication, or who has the consent of one of the parties to the communication, can lawfully record it or disclose its contents, unless the person is doing so for the purpose of committing a criminal or tortious act. Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 176.4 (West 2012).

In-person conversations: The consent of at least one party to a conversation is required to record an “oral communication,” which is defined as “any communication uttered by a person exhibiting an expectation that such communication is not subject to interception under circumstance justifying such expectation.” Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 176.2. Thus, a journalist does not need consent to record conversations in public where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy. The statute also criminalizes the secret loitering around any building with the intent to overhear a discussion or conversation therein. Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 21, § 1202.

Electronic communications: The consent of at least one party to any telephone communication is required to record it. And because the provision of the statute dealing with wireless communications applies to “any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature,” consent likewise is required to disclose the contents of text messages sent between wireless devices. Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 176.2.

Hidden cameras: It is a felony to photograph or record, “in a clandestine manner for any illegal, illegitimate, prurient, lewd or lascivious purpose,” a person in a place where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy and to disclose any images obtained by these means, and a misdemeanor to clandestinely photograph or record the “private area” of a person, regardless of whether the person is in a public or private place. Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 21, § 1171. The law, however, does not criminalize the use of recording devices for other purposes in areas to which the public has access or there is no reasonable expectation of privacy (i.e., filming conversations on public streets or a hotel lobby).

Criminal penalties: Illegally recording an in-person conversation or electronic communication is a felony offense. Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 176.3.

Disclosing recordings: Disclosing the contents of a wire, oral or electronic communication obtained through illegal recording is a felony. Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 176.3. And repeating or publishing with the intent to “vex, annoy, or injure others” the contents of a discussion or conversation overheard while unlawfully loitering around a building is a misdemeanor. Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 21, § 1202.