United Kingdom Recording Laws

UK Audio Recording Laws for Individuals

According to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), recording conversations without consent in the UK is legal provided the recording is done for personal use, this includes telephone conversations.

However, problems can arise when such recorded conversations are shared to third parties without the consent of the participants of the conversation. It is an offence to sell recorded conversations to third parties or make public such conversations without the consent of the participants in the conversation.

Can Recordings Obtained without consent be used as evidence in court?

According to The Civil Procedure Rules which govern legal proceedings in England and Wales, courts may use their power to dismiss evidence that would otherwise be admissible.

Interception of Communications

According to Investigatory Powers Act (2016), it is against the law to intercept any communication in the course of its transmission by means of a telecommunication system by:

  • Modifying with the telecommunication system.
  • Monitoring transmissions made by means of the system.
  • Monitoring transmissions made by wireless telegraphy to or from apparatus that is part of the system.
  • The above mentioned acts are done to make the contents of the communication available to a person who is not the sender or intended recipient of the communication.

Telecommunication systems include the telephone network, computer network and the internet. Therefore, it is illegal to intercept any conversations happening through these mediums. 

Note:

It is not an offence for a person to intercept a communication in the course of its transmission if the person has a right to control the operation or use of the system or if the person has consent of such a person to carry out the interception.

Penalties

Intercepting any communication in the course of its transmission is an offence punishable by:

  • A fine on summary conviction in England and Wales.
  • A fine not exceeding the statutory maximum on summary conviction, in Scotland or Northern Ireland.
  • An imprisonment term not exceeding 2 years or a fine, or both, on conviction on indictment.

UK Audio Recording Laws for Business

As stated by the Investigatory Powers Act (2016) a telephone recording can be made without the consent of the person if the recording is carried out by a business in compliance with The Telecommunications (Lawful Business Practice) (Interception of Communications) Regulations 2000. To sum up these regulations the audio can be recorded for the following reasons

  • To prove a business transaction
  • Ensure that the business is in compliance with regulatory procedures
  • To ensure that quality standards are being met in the interests of national secureity
  • To stop crime or detect the unlawful use of a telecom system
  • Ensure the effective operation of the telecom system

Business are allowed to monitor, but are not allowed to record phone calls from employees to see whether they are relevant to the business. This means for example that an employer could open e-mails while an employee is on vacation, or out sick. This does not allow employers to secretly monitor all calls with malicious intent as the interception of employee communications must be proportionate and in accordance with the Data Protection Act (1988).

Does a business have to tell you if they are going to record your phone calls in the UK?

Yes and no. A business can record phone calls without consent if the information is being used internally for business related reasons. If the business is sharing the information to a third party whether it’s for marketing reasons or ‘other’ then they must obtain consent.

To obtain consent for business purposes in the United Kingdom 3 criteria must be met.

  • You must inform that a recording is taking place
  • You must inform of the purpose of the recording. Whether it’s for training, marketing, or other.
  • You must ask for consent to the recording

Can someone record you without your permission?

Taking photographs or shooting video in public places is not illegal unless it’s for nefarious purposes. Keep in mind that many seemingly public places such as Malls are actually privately owned, in this case you’ll have to follow the rules that they have put in place.

Taking photos or video of someone where there is the expectation of privacy is a breach of privacy laws. Examples of this would be in someone’s home.

The legality of posting a video of someone in the United Kingdom without their permission comes down to how the video was filmed.  If the video was filmed where there is no expectation of privacy (a public place), then it would be legal to post the video on-line or on your socials.  If the video is filmed secretly where there is an expectation of privacy then it would be illegal to post it on-line.