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France Audio and Video Recording Laws

Can You Record Conversations in France?

In France, it is illegal to record or transmit conversations (including phone conversations) without the consent of all the parties to the conversation.

However, if the recording is done in full view of the concerned parties without them objecting to it when they are in a position to do so, then consent is presumed, and you’re allowed to record the conversation.

For example, if you’re trying to record the conversations of people in a park and they have knowledge and full view of your recording activities, and they don’t bother to object to it, you are allowed to capture the conversations as consent is presumed.

This is according to Article 226-1 of France’s Penal Code which states that it is a violation of others privacy to capture, record or transmit, without the consent of their author, words spoken in a private or confidential capacity.

Note: Before recording the conversations of minors, consent should be obtained from the holders of parental authority.

Can You Record Videos of Others in France?

It is illegal to record images or videos of others, without their consent, when they are in a private place

For example, if someone is using a restroom or is inside a home, you are not allowed to video or take pictures of that person since these areas are private places where people expect to be free from surveillance.

However, if you’re trying to record a person(s) in a private place, and they have knowledge and full view of your recording activities, and they don’t object even though they are in a position to do so, consent is presumed and you’re allowed to record.

This is covered in Article 226-1 of France’s Penal Code, which states that it is a violation of others privacy to fix, record or transmit, without consent, the image of a person in a private place.

Note: Before recording videos or taking pictures of minors in private places, consent should be obtained from the holders of parental authority.

Possessing and Disclosing Illegal Recordings

It is illegal to use, possess or disclose to the public or a third party, any recording or document obtained through illegal means in violation of Article 226-1 of France’s Penal Code.

This is according to Article 226-2 which states that it is illegal to use, keep, bring or let the public or a third party know any recording or document obtained in violation of Article 226-1.

Law on Devices Used to Facilitate Illegal Recordings

According to Article 226-3 of France’s Penal Code, it is against the law to:

  • Manufacture, import, possess, exhibit, offer, rent or sell technical devices or devices capable of enabling operations that constitute the violation of recording laws under Article 226-1.
  • Carry out an advertisement in favour of a device or a technical device likely to allow the infringement of Article 226-1.

Recording the Private Parts of Others

It is illegal to record the private parts of others when such parts are concealed through clothing or by being in a private place, without the consent or knowledge of the concerned person(s).

This is according to Article 226-3-1 of France’s Penal Code.

Recording Laws for Businesses in France

France and all other EU Countries follow the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), a regulation established to control the processing of data owned by EU citizens by companies that have access to such data regardless of whether or not the companies are operating within the EU.

To learn more about these regulations, check out this page.

Penalties

  • Violating Article 226-1 that covers recording laws, and Article 226-2 that covers possession and disclosure of illegal recordings is punishable by one year of imprisonment and a fine of 45,000 euros.
  • When Article 226-1 and Article 226-2 are violated by the victim’s spouse or partner or the partner linked to the victim by a civil solidarity pact, the punishments increase to two years imprisonment and a fine of 60,000 euros.
  • When the violations of Article 226-1 and Article 226-2 relate to words or images of a sexual nature taken in a public or private place, the punishments increase to two years imprisonment and a fine of € 60,000.
  • Violating Article 226-3 is punishable by five years imprisonment and a fine of € 300,000.
  • Violating Article 226-3-1 is punishable by one year of imprisonment and a fine of € 15,000. The punishment increases to two years imprisonment and a fine of € 30,000 if:

      • The violation is by a person who abuses the authority conferred on him by his functions.

      • The victim of the violation is a minor.

      • When the victim is a vulnerable person due to illness, age, infirmity, a physical or mental deficiency or a state of pregnancy, when these vulnerabilities are known or apparent to the perpetrator.

      • The violation is committed by several persons acting in the capacity of author or accomplice.

      • The violation is committed in a vehicle assigned to collective passenger transport or in a place intended for access to a means of collective passenger transport.

      • The violation involves images that have been fixed, recorded or transmitted.