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Legality Of Phone Call Recording: Legal Consent Guidelines

Most phone call recording systems can be used for recording both incoming and outgoing calls. Actually, with a telephone call recorder, documentation of important conversations is a breeze. As a matter of fact, people from all kinds of industries benefit from it.


In the call center industry alone, telephone call recording greatly helps quality assurance processes. Recorded calls can be used for training purposes or client satisfaction purposes. In other businesses, phone recorders can be used to aid businessmen to keep track of all their communications.


Regardless of the purpose for recording federal law states that at least one party must be notified beforehand that the call will be recorded.


Phone call recording for legal matters is probably one of the most significant but controversial contributions of this technology to mankind. A recorded telephone conversation can stand as solid, unquestionable evidence.


Certain criteria must be met for the recording to be admissible as evidence. The first and most important criteria is the presence of consent. Without consent the recording becomes completely inadmissible in court.


There are 2 main types of phone call recording laws we'll discuss below:

  • One party consent
  • All party consent
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One-Party Consent
One-Party Consent refers to where at least one of the parties involved gave consent and is fully aware that the call is being recorded.


Federal and state governments implement different guidelines based on the wiretapping and eavesdropping legislation. With this said, thirty-seven states, as well as the District of Columbia, only require one-party consent. In a one-party consent state, you can record a conversation without telling the other party and later use it as evidence, as long as you’re one of the parties in the conversation.


Note that for all US States, it is generally illegal to record a call that you’re not a part of. This is a call you’re not permitted to record. Also, disclosure of the contents of an illegally recorded conversation is not permitted, except for when these recordings were expressly requested by the judiciary.

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All-Party Consent
All-Party Consent refers to where ALL parties are required to be informed that the call is being recorded.


This notification can be verbal or in the form of a beep that both parties can hear, indicating that the documentation is taking place. In the United States, 12 states require all-party consent. In any event that the call is within an interstate level, it is a must to ensure that the documentation is in compliance to the policies of both states.


As a rule of thumb, the state with the stricter law will take precedence. So if a call is being recorded between parties in different states, one with an All-Party consent clause, and the other without, the All-Party consent clause would ultimately rule and must be fulfilled for the recording to be legal.


Moreover, note that the term is called “All-party consent” and not just two-party consent. Thus, these laws require the consent of all parties involved in the phone call and not just two. This applies to conference calls, group video calls, etc.

International Telephone Call Recording
The above mentioned guidelines apply only to the United States, as other countries may follow different guidelines. In the United Kingdom, for example, people are only allowed to record calls for their personal use, so that the recorded information cannot be given to another party for any reason whatsoever. In most developing countries, however, laws concerning telephone call recorders are seldom in existence.


Business Telephone Call Recording
Businesses can monitor calls related to their primary business. If the phone call is being recorded for purposes such as market research or customer service quality control, then the other party must be informed before recording commences.

Protect Yourself
Phone call recording is useful for a wide variety of purposes. It is important, however, to consult a legal professional to make sure that you will not get into any trouble.


For further reading see our other articles related to the legality of phone recording:
7 Steps To Determine If A Telephone Recording Can Be Used In Court
5 Steps To Discreetly (and Legally) Record Phone Calls
Is It Legal? How Phone Recording Device Laws Apply (or Do Not Apply) To You