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Summary

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  • Alabama

    Alabama law sets criminal penalties for recording or disclosing private communication of others without the consent of at least one of the persons involved. The statute also bans secret observations while trespassing on private property, with or without recording.

    Those divulging illegally obtained communications also face criminal penalties.

    The state’s hidden camera law also has criminal penalties.

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  • Alaska

    Alaska’s eavesdropping laws prohibit the use of any electronic devices to overhear or record private conversations without the consent of at least one party to the conversation. Further, the state criminalizes the disclosure of information obtained without such consent.

    The state’s hidden camera law only applies to taking nude or partially nude pictures of subjects without their consent.

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  • Arizona

    An individual not involved or present at a conversation must have the consent of at least one party in order to legally record an in-person, telephone or electronic communication.

    Recording such conversations without consent is a felony under Arizona law. The state also allows for civil suits for violations of its eavesdropping laws.

    Violations of the hidden camera law are also felonies.

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  • Arkansas

    An individual must have the consent of at least one party to a conversation in order to legally record either an in-person or phone conversation. Intercepting such conversations without consent, as well as possessing a recording, is a misdemeanor.

    State law makes it a felony to use any camera to secretly view a person in a private area without consent.

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  • California

    In California, all parties to any confidential conversation must give their consent to be recorded. It is currently unclear, however, whether parties to calls occurring over cellular or cordless phones need to consent before a person can record.

    Both civil and criminal penalties are available to victims of illegal recordings.

    Further, the state’s so-called “anti-paparazzi” legislation sets fines for, among other things, trespassing on private property with the intent of capturing photos. The state’s vehicle code similarly penalizes those who interfere with drivers of vehicles in pursuit of images or sound recordings.

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  • Colorado

    An individual not involved or present at a conversation must have the consent of at least one party to record an in-person, telephone or electronic communication.

    Intercepting in-person conversations without consent is a misdemeanor, although it only applies when the parties have a reasonable expectation of privacy. The state also explicitly makes an allowance for recording by news media in some situations.

    Intercepting electronic communications without at least one party’s consent and disclosing information gained through such means are both felony crimes under the state’s wiretapping law.

    Violations of the state’s hidden camera law are misdemeanors.

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  • Connecticut

    Connecticut requires at least one party’s consent to record an in-person conversation. For telephonic conversations, consent of all parties is required to avoid potential civil liability, though criminal penalties do not apply if at least one party has consented to the recording.

    The state’s voyeurism law prohibits taking visual images of another person without that person’s consent or knowledge when there is an expectation of privacy.

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  • Delaware

    Delaware’s wiretapping law requires at least one party’s consent to record both in-person conversations and electronic communications. However, there is some conflict in the laws. A more recently enacted state privacy law makes it illegal to intercept private conversations without the consent of all parties. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1335(a)(4). At least one federal court has held that, even under the privacy law, an individual can record conversations to which he or she is a party, without obtaining consent from others. United States v. Vespe, 389 F. Supp. 1359 (1975). Both laws have criminal penalties, though, so it is advisable to follow the stricter privacy law.

    Violations of the wiretapping law are felonies and may also be the basis of a civil lawsuit, while violations of the privacy law are generally misdemeanors.

    Violations of the hidden camera provisions are felonies.

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  • District of Columbia

    In the District of Columbia, an individual may record or disclose the contents of an in-person or phone conversation if he or she is a party to the communication or has received prior consent from one of the parties.

    The District’s voyeurism law prohibits secretly taking images of people in private settings and distributing them without consent.

    Both the recording and voyeurism laws have criminal penalties, and the recording law provides civil penalties.

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  • Florida

    All parties must consent to the recording or the disclosure of the contents of any in-person, telephone or electronic communication in Florida. Disclosing communications in violation of the state’s statute is prohibited.

    The state’s video voyeurism law bans the secret recording of images of individuals in areas where they are undressing and have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

    Both criminal and civil penalties exist for violations of the recording law, while the video voyeurism law has criminal penalties.

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  • Georgia

    An individual may record or disclose the contents of an in-person, telephone 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 also 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 video recordings or images.

    Violators of these rules can face criminal penalties and/or civil lawsuits.

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  • Hawaii

    Under the state’s eavesdropping law, an individual may record or disclose the contents of an oral, telephone or electronic communication if he or she is a party to the communication or has received prior consent from one of the parties.

    However, the state’s privacy law prohibits the recording of sounds or images in private places without all parties’ consent, with greater penalties if a person in the image is in any stage of undress.

    The state provides both civil and criminal penalties for violators.

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  • Idaho

    An individual may record or disclose the contents of an in-person, telephone 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 provides both civil and criminal penalties for violators.

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  • Illinois

    In Illinois, an eavesdropping device cannot be used to record or overhear a private conversation or intercept, retain or transcribe a telephone or electronic communication made with the reasonable expectation of privacy without the consent of all parties involved.

    The state provides both criminal and civil penalties for violators.

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  • Indiana

    Indiana bars the recording or interception of any telephonic or electronic communication without the consent of at least one party to the conversation. It is not clear whether a journalist also needs at least one party’s consent before recording in-person conversations.

    The state also prohibits disclosure of images intercepted in violation of its video voyeurism law.

    Violators can face both civil and criminal penalties.

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  • Iowa

    Iowa has two laws dealing with the interception of oral, telephonic or electronic communications. Both laws permit a party to those conversations to record them. One of the laws makes recordings by non-parties a serious misdemeanor, while the other permits the recording or interception of such communications with the consent of at least one party.

    The state prohibits disclosure of the illegally intercepted contents of such communications.

    Violators can face both civil and criminal penalties.

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  • Kansas

    Kansas bars the recording, interception, use or disclosure of any private conversation without the consent of at least one party to the conversation.

    The state also prohibits the recording and disclosure of images captured illegally with a hidden camera.

    Violators can face both civil and criminal penalties.

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  • Kentucky

    Kentucky bars the recording, interception, use or disclosure of any oral or telephonic communication 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 law.

    Violators can face criminal penalties.

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  • Louisiana

    Louisiana’s Electronic Surveillance Act bars the recording, interception, use or disclosure of any in-person, telephone or electronic communication without the consent of at least one party to the conversation.

    The state also prohibits the recording and disclosure of images taken in violation of its video voyeurism laws.

    Violators can face both civil and criminal penalties.

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  • Maine

    Maine bars the recording, interception, use or disclosure of any in-person or telephonic conversation without the consent of at least one party to the conversation. However, the state requires the consent of all parties to record conversations occurring in places like dressing rooms and bathrooms.

    The state also prohibits the recording and disclosure of images or audio intercepted in violation of its privacy laws.

    Violators can face both civil and criminal penalties.

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  • Maryland

    Under Maryland’s Wiretap Act, it is unlawful to record any private in-person conversation or any telephone or electronic communication unless you are a party to the conversation and have the permission of all the other parties. Additionally, recording with criminal or tortious purpose is illegal, regardless of consent.

    The state also prohibits the recording and disclosure of images intercepted in violation of its privacy laws.

    Violators can face both civil and criminal penalties.

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  • Massachusetts

    Massachusetts prohibits the recording, interception, use or disclosure of any conversation, whether in person or over the telephone, without the permission of all the parties.

    The state also prohibits the recording and disclosure of images intercepted in violation of its hidden camera laws.

    Violators can face both civil and criminal penalties.

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  • Michigan

    Michigan prohibits the recording and disclosure of any private conversations, whether in person or over the phone, without the consent of all parties, by someone who is not a party to the conversation. Courts disagree whether participants to the conversation may record without permission of the other parties.

    The state also prohibits the recording and disclosure of images made in violation of its hidden camera laws.

    Violators can face both civil and criminal penalties.

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  • Minnesota

    Minnesota bars the recording, interception, use or disclosure of any in-person, telephonic or electronic communication 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 hidden camera laws.

    Violators can face both civil and criminal penalties.

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  • Mississippi

    Mississippi bars the recording, interception, use or disclosure of any in-person, telephonic or other communication without the consent of at least one party to the conversation.

    The state also prohibits the recording and disclosure of images made in violation of its hidden camera laws.

    Violators can face both civil and criminal penalties.

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  • Missouri

    Recordings of in-person conversations generally require the consent of all parties when there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. An individual who is a party to a telephone conversation — 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.

    The state also prohibits the recording and disclosure of images recorded in violation of its hidden camera laws.

    Violators can face criminal penalties under each of these laws, as well as civil penalties for the illegal recording of telephone conversations.

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  • Montana

    It is a violation of the state’s “privacy in communications” law to record either an in-person or telephone conversation or electronic communication without the consent of all parties, except under certain circumstances.

    The state also prohibits recordings in violation of its hidden camera law.

    Violators of both laws are subject to criminal penalties.

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  • Nebraska

    An individual who is a party to an in-person or telephone conversation or an electronic communication, or who has the consent of one of the parties to the conversation, can lawfully record it or disclose its contents, unless the person is doing so for the purpose of committing a criminal or tortious act.

    The state also prohibits recordings in violation of its hidden camera law.

    Violators of Nebraska’s recording law and the hidden camera law are subject to criminal penalties, with civil penalties possible as well for violations of the recording law.

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  • Nevada

    An individual who has the consent of at least one party to an in-person conversation can lawfully record it or disclose its contents, but the consent of all parties is required to record or disclose the existence or contents of a telephone conversation.

    The state also prohibits visual recordings in violation of its hidden camera law.

    Violators of the recording law are subject to both criminal and civil penalties, while the hidden camera law has criminal penalties.

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  • New Hampshire

    It is unlawful to record either an in-person or telephone conversation or disclose its contents without the consent of all parties. The violation goes from a felony to a misdemeanor offense, however, if the violator was a party to the communication or had one party’s prior consent to record it.

    The state also prohibits the recording and disclosure of images or sound intercepted in violation of its hidden camera laws.

    Both laws have criminal penalties, and violators of the recording law may be subject to civil lawsuits as well.

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  • New Jersey

    An individual who is a party to or has the consent of at least one of the parties to a private in-person conversation or a telephone or electronic communication can lawfully record that conversation or disclose its contents, unless the person is doing so for the purpose of committing a criminal or tortious act.

    New Jersey also prohibits images made or disclosed in violation of its hidden camera law.

    Violators of the recording laws may be subject to both criminal and civil penalties, while the hidden camera law has criminal penalties.

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  • New York

    An individual who is a party to either an in-person or telephone conversation or electronic communication, or who has the consent of one of the parties to the communication, can lawfully record it.

    New York also prohibits images made or disclosed in violation of its hidden camera law.

    Violators of both laws may be subject to criminal penalties.

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  • Pennsylvania

    It is unlawful to intentionally record or disclose the contents of a private in-person conversation or any telephone or electronic communication without the consent of all parties.

    The state also prohibits images made or disclosed in violation of its hidden camera law.

    Violators of the recording law are subject to both criminal and civil penalties, while the hidden camera law has criminal penalties

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  • Rhode Island

    An individual who is a party to an in-person, telephone or electronic conversation, or who has the consent of one of the parties to the conversation, can lawfully record and disclose it, unless the person is doing so for the purpose of committing a criminal or tortious act. R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-35-21. An in-person, telephone or electronic conversation may also be disclosed if its contents (defined as the identities of the parties or the existence, substance, or meaning of the conversation) have become common knowledge or public information. R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 11-35-21, 12-5.1-1.

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