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Can I Sue Someone for Recording Me Without Permission?

by Louise W. Rice

In a world where almost everyone owns a smartphone, taking pictures of anything has become the norm. People use their phones to take pictures of themselves, cute animals, or beautiful locations.

Although the camera can be extremely useful, it’s also used with less pure intentions in some cases. There are people who record others having private conversations or just being out and about in public, minding their business.

Being recorded without your consent is certainly frustrating, especially when it’s clear the person doing it had bad intentions. You begin to wonder whether something can be done about this from a legal standpoint. Can you sue someone for recording you without your permission? Let’s find out.

What Are the Most Common Situations Involving Someone Being Recorded?

Recording can happen in all sorts of cases, and it’s a more common occurrence than people believe. Video or audio recording can happen when:

  • Someone wants to have proof of crimes
  • You use social media or a phone app
  • You are interviewed “on the record” by a reporter
  • A person uses their phone to record a business meeting
  • Someone takes a video recording in a public space – for example, the gym
  • You go to a play or a concert and want to record the performance
  • You call customer service or the help desk line
  • An individual has a security system or video doorbell
  • There are any “nanny cams” or hidden cameras

While some of these situations may be legal, others are not.

Someone Recorded Me Without my Permission – Can I Sue Them?

If someone records you without your consent, you may think that there’s hardly anything that you can do about it the legal way. After all, with everyone having a smartphone and being able to record whomever they want, it’s hard to believe that the authorities would bother with such cases.

In reality, you can sue someone if they record you without your permission. It just depends on where the recording was taken and the circumstances. The U.S. has certain laws meant to protect everyone’s right to privacy.

  • The Wiretap Act

The wiretap act ensures that third parties do not listen to your phone calls and record your conversations illegally. That being said, the expectation of privacy applies to all electronic communication, but also your house.

In most states, wiretaps are allowed only when one or both parties agree to this. However, two exceptions may apply in some cases:

  • Service Provider Exception – When a communications service provider protects its property or rights or has to record or wiretap someone by court order, it is excepted from the wiretap act.
  • Law Enforcement Exception – If they somehow believe that the person being recorded is doing an illegality, law enforcement officers have the right to wiretap conversations and be excepted by the wiretap act. However, the officers must receive consent from at least one of the parties, although in some states, both parties must give their consent. For instance, in Indiana, recording or intercepting any electronic or telephonic conversation without at least one party giving consent is illegal. You can hire an Indianapolis lawyer in case your right to privacy is violated.

When Can I Not Sue an Individual for Recording Me?

There are situations when you cannot sue someone for recording you without consent. Such cases include:

  • Being in a private business within a public area, such as a business or mall
  • Being in a public space, such as a parking lot
  • You are using work devices or you’re at work
  • The person recording has permission to record you, such as a warrant

Can Secret Recordings Be Used as Evidence?

Courts have stated that taking recordings secretly can be considered improper conduct, with the materials being reprehensible. However, there are cases when a covert or secret recording can be admitted as evidence if it has probative value and is relevant to that specific case.

What Are the Penalties for Recording Someone Without Consent?

Recording someone without consent is not always illegal. But if someone records you illegally, they can face penalties.

Punishments involve a $500 fine or five years in prison or jail. However, each state is different in the way they penalize these illegalities, with some even having harsher penalties.

Final Thoughts

You can sue someone for recording you without permission, but only in some situations. If you’ve been recorded but didn’t offer your consent, talk to a legal expert to find out if you have a case.

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