If I am in a restaurant, is it legal to record my conversation without my permission?

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If I am in a restaurant, is it legal to record my conversation without my permission?

Since more and more CCTV surveillance systems include cameras with audio capability, is the use and recording of that audio legal in a place of business? For example, if I go to a “fast food” restaurant and am having a conversation with a business associate, is our conversation allowed to be audio recorded by the video surveillance system? We have not given permission for our conversation to be recorded. Is the simple fact that there is video surveillance also allow for audio recording. Also, does the use of a sign allow the violation of the audio recording laws?

Asked on January 9, 2015 under Personal Injury, Indiana

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

The majority of states are what is known as "all party consent". This means that all parties to a conversation must consent to its recording; if not and the conversation is recorded anyway, that is a violation of law. However, there are certain exceptions, one being the recording of a conversation in a public place (such as a restaurant). The rationale is that there is no "expectation of privacy" in such a location. Accordingly, a conversation can be recorded without the knowledege of all parties (or any party to the converstion for that matter).

  • Note: If a recording takes place in a "one party" consent state, then only one party to the converstion need consent to it (unless, as previously stated, the expectation of privacy as been waived).

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