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How Legal is it to Audio Record Calls on Your Smartphone?

How Legal is it to Audio Record Calls on Your Smartphone?

There are many valid reasons to want to record a phone call. For example, if you’re talking to a business or government office, it provides a record of what’s said in the event of a dispute. It’s also a convenient way to record important information without a pen.

However, if you’d like to record a phone call, it’s important to be aware that you often need some form of consent. Furthermore, you might need an additional device because of how Android and iOS are designed.

So, just how legal is it to record phone calls on a smartphone, and how do you do it?

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Is It Legal to Record Phone Calls on a Smartphone?

If you live in the United States, the answer depends on your state. Most states have a one-party consent law, while 12 states require two-party consent.

The 12 states with two-party consent are California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

If you are attempting to record a phone call with somebody in a different state, it’s a good idea to check the law in both states and apply whichever law is stronger. While the applicable law is usually dictated by the state where the recording device is used, there are exceptions.

It’s important to note that recording a phone call you are not participating in is always illegal. If you were to install an app on somebody else’s phone to record their calls, you would be breaking the law regardless of the purpose.

If you live outside of the United States, laws vary widely depending on where you live. For example, some countries, such as Australia, make recording phone calls illegal regardless of consent. It is, therefore, important to seek country-specific advice before doing so.

Why Is Recording a Phone Call Potentially Illegal?

Recording phone calls is potentially illegal because of the Federal Wiretap Act. This act states that it is illegal to record a conversation, in person or over the phone, in which other parties have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

This act, however, includes the notable exception that doing so is legal, provided at least one party in the conversation consents. This act makes the recording of phone calls legal with consent but illegal without it.

How Google and Apple Prevent Users from Recording Phone Calls

Apple and Google have both made it difficult for smartphone users to record phone calls.

Android versions 9 and 10 both included updates aimed at preventing apps from recording voice calls. App developers then began using Android’s Accessibility Service as a workaround until 2022, when Google updated their developer’s policy to prevent the practice.

On iOS, Apple simply doesn’t allow any app to access the microphone and phone app.

Why Phone Call Recording Apps Don’t Always Work

There are apps and services that can be used to record phone calls on a smartphone, but due to the actions of Apple and Google, they tend to either be unreliable or inconvenient.

Many apps only work on outdated versions of Android or require you to root your smartphone. Rooting your smartphone is not recommended because it is a security risk.

There are phone call recording services available, but they typically require you to route the phone call through their servers, and the recording then occurs on their end rather than on your smartphone. This is not ideal from a privacy perspective as you would have to trust that service not to keep their own record of your conversations.

How to Record Phone Calls Using Google Voice

Google Voice is a free service that provides a dedicated phone number. Anyone who calls that number is then routed to your mobile. Google Voice can record phone calls, but it’s important to note that it only allows you to record incoming calls.

First, you’ll need to create and configure a Google Voice account. After you’ve done so, you can turn on the call recording functionality by visiting the Settings page and enabling incoming call options.

Once this setting is enabled, you can record incoming calls by pressing four on the keypad. A message will inform the caller that they are being recorded. You can then stop the recording by pressing four a second time.

Any calls that you record are then sent to your Gmail account.

How to Record Phone Calls Using an Additional Device

If you want to record outgoing calls or don’t want to use Google Voice, the most straightforward option is to use a separate device, like a voice recorder or a second smartphone.

While call recording apps are often unreliable, any smartphone that can shoot video can record a call that you have on speaker. Make a phone call using your phone’s speaker and use the second device to record everything.

If you are in a state with two-party consent, it’s important to inform the other party that you are about to record before you do so.

Recording Phone Calls Is Straightforward—Provided You Understand the Laws

Recording a phone call on your smartphone is not necessarily illegal, but it’s important to understand your state’s consent laws before attempting to do so.

One-party consent is easy to achieve, but if your state requires two-party consent, all parties must be aware of what you are doing before you press record.

Google and Apple have made the activity a challenge on smartphones, but it is still doable. A Google Voice account is arguably the most straightforward option. But you can also record calls with an additional device set to record standard audio.

This content was originally published here.

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