Apple users, whether they use an iPhone, iPad, or Macintosh as their personal preference, went crazy for FaceTime when Apple rolled out the video chat program in 2010, and they’re still crazy for it. FaceTime made video chatting quick, easy, free, and most of all built-in to all Apple products. FaceTime is easily one of the best features of the iPhone. It’s easy to use, high quality and as long as you have a decent network connection it works flawlessly. However, the shift from written messages to telephone and then to video as our standard default way of communication has raised many questions in the public mind regarding privacy. Is it legal to record a FaceTime call? Does FaceTime itself notify other members of the chat that someone has hit screen record? What can you do if you think you’ve been recorded?
Can you screen record a FaceTime call on iPhone?
Yes. If you are using your iPhone to FaceTime someone, then you can also record the call although you should get the other party’s permission to record, generally speaking. See the section below on legal issues. The procedure for recording a call is quite simple:
- Open Settings and Control Center.
- Select Customize Controls.
- Scroll to Screen Recording and select the green Add icon.
- Swipe up from the bottom of your phone screen to access Control Center.
- Start screen recording with the icon.
- Open FaceTime and set up your call.
However, there is one thing to bear in mind: your iPhone will record the video portion of your conversation, but it will not record the sound. Again, to clarify, only the video will record. This is normal behavior for FaceTime, Skype, and pretty much all other video chats as well. Apparently Apple wants to err on the side of caution in not permitting a one-stop eavesdropping mechanism. If you want the audio, you will have to record it on a separate app and use a video and sound editor to stitch the two feeds together later. There are plenty of these apps out there, including Record it!, DU Recorder, Web Recorder and ecamm.
Can you screen record on FaceTime without the person knowing?
Yes. FaceTime does not alert the other person if you record the call using the built-in screen recorder. Snapchat is the only application I know of that will alert the other party that you have screenshotted or recorded. iOS doesn’t have that facility and the many third party screen recording apps you can use on an iPhone don’t appear to trigger it either. This seems odd given that Apple purportedly wants to protect you by not allowing the recording of audio on video chats. That it will allow you to secretly record or take screenshots of a FaceTime call without alerting the other person seems like a bigger privacy issue.
Can you tell if someone Screen Records FaceTime?
Of course, it works both ways. If they can’t tell that you’re recording, you can’t tell either. This means that making a legal case against an unauthorized recording is somewhat difficult. In all honesty, unless you know the person who recorded you and have some kind of evidence that they made a recording, AND it was illegal for them to do so (see below) you cannot do a great deal. We are all recorded all the time, from building cameras to city CCTV, traffic cameras to security cameras in malls or other public spaces.
Can people spy on you through FaceTime? The law on recording conversations
Although there are nuances and complexities, there are basically two different legal regimes in the United States when it comes to recording conversations, whether in person, on the telephone, or on video. Residents of California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington have what is called two-party consent. This means that ALL parties to the conversation must know that it is going to be recorded for recording to be legal.
In the other thirty-nine states (well, thirty-eight and the District of Columbia) only one party to the conversation needs to know that it is being recorded, and this is generally the party who is making the recording. In Ohio you can plop down next to any stranger in a public park and secretly start recording your interaction and you’ll be OK in the eyes of the law. Do note that this basic rule applies to people in public or semi-public places; people in private places such as their own bathroom or bedroom have a higher expectation of privacy and you cannot secretly record them in those environments and rely on the one-party rule to save you from prosecution. People engaging in highly private acts such as sex or bathing have even more privacy rights, and you can start getting into enormous amounts of trouble for recording them.
FaceTime (and other online video chat programs) can of course reach across state lines. So if someone in a one-party state is talking with someone in a two-party state, which law controls? In general, it is the law that is in force in the state where the recording is being made.
Be sure to check the TechJunkie archives for more details on the technical process of recording a Facetime session.
FaceTime and the threat of recording
There will always be the risk that someone is recording your FaceTime call. It is something we all have to bear in mind when we appear on video. It is also something we need to keep an eye out for when talking to someone new. If you trust the person, you can make a judgment call on whether you need to maintain your guard or not.
If you don’t know the other person well enough yet or you don’t have that level of trust, keep the possibility of your being recorded in the back of your mind. There are lots of ways to appear on video without being too identifiable so it shouldn’t stop you doing what you want.
It is always good etiquette to let the other party know that you’re recording the conversation, whether it’s a customer service agent on the phone or your boss. Anything less is just rude and should be regarded as the lowest of the low. That won’t stop some people, though, so you just have to bear in mind the risks when dealing with people that you don’t know so well.
Interested in doing more with video chat? There have been a lot of jokes made, but the Facebook Portal does look like a nice piece of hardware. Now if we can just keep Zuck from watching us change…
Have you ever been recorded or photographed without your knowledge? What did you do about it? Tell us about it below if you like!