Is It Legal To Record Phone Calls On Your Android and iPhone?

While recording voice and video calls is a common feature in today’s modern social communication platforms, it is best to check whether you are legally doing it or you might commit serious legal offence.

Occasionally, people are faced with a situation where they wished they had recorded something someone had said over the phone, or in a Skype call or something. Acquiring the tools and applications necessary for this used to be difficult, but in our modern age, call-recording tools are more plentiful than ever. Nowadays, with the prevalence of smartphones and other gadgets, it is easy (and sometimes very tempting) to make call recordings anytime we want.

So let’s get to the big question. Is it legal to record phone calls on your Android or iOS device?

Well, the answer varies depending on where you are and whether the laws there limit your ability to record phone calls.

Is is legal for U.S. residents?

 

This is an interesting question, because this actually depends on how state and federal law intersect. Federal law (applies to all states and territories unless state law overrides it) dictates that calls can be recorded as long as at least one party consents to it. This is referred to as “one-party consent”. This means that it’s fine for you to record your own phone calls and other conversations, but you can’t record anyone else’s without at least one person’s permission.

Eleven states require all parties in a phone call to consent before calls can be recorded legally. These states are California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington. All the other states adhere to the one-party consent law. Hawaii is slightly different as they generally adhere to the “one-party consent” law, but if the recording is done in a private place then the “two-party consent” law applies.

Note that this comes with some complications. Please refer to this page for further details.

When is it illegal?

eavesdropping

Recording calls are illegal in any circumstance where you are not one of the parties, or you’re using illegally-placed bugs and recording devices. This applies even to states with the one-party consent law.

Pretty much, you aren’t allowed to record other people’s conversations unless you’re the NSA or another government agency. That may seem like a hotly political statement, but it’s the unfortunate truth for American citizens: surveillance has been permitted and normalized, and while there are fights in the courts over this, meaningful change is still a ways off.

What about other countries?

International regulations on recording phone calls vary largely. To record a call legally, you might have to consult the local government telecommunications authority. Although, some countries do not have clear laws about this. Clearly, the best thing to do is to obtain permission from the other party in the call.

Some countries, like Australia, outright ban call recordings, while Canada permits them if the other party is informed they’re being reported. In the UK, call recording is subject to several laws; while Ireland states that one should explain the purpose of recording the call in detail.

This article will not be able to cover all the countries’ telecommunication regulations. When making international calls and intending to make a recording, it is best to make a thorough research to understand all the surrounding legalities to avoid any unpleasant repercussions.

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