New York Audio and Video Recording Laws

New York Recording Law Summary: New York Recording Law

Is New York a One Party Consent State?

New York recording law stipulates that it is a one-party consent state. In New York, it is a criminal offense to use any device to record, obtain, share or use communications, whether they are wire, oral or electronic, without the consent of at least one person taking part in the communication. This means that in New York, you are legally allowed to record a conversation if you are a contributor, or with prior consent from one of the involved parties. N.Y. Penal Law §§ 250.00, 250.05 (McKinney 2012).

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Is it Legal to Record a Conversation in New York?

You may not record or share conversations that you are not a part of without the consent of at least one party.

However, New York law does make an exception in cases where the person or people communicating are doing so in an environment where they should not be under the expectation of privacy. New York v. Kirsh, 575 N.Y.S.2d 306 (N.Y. App. Div. 1991).

If you are a third-party and require consent from the parties taking part in the conversation, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) states that you may gain consent to make a recording by:

  • Getting verbal or written consent prior to the recording being made.
  • A verbal notification being played before the conversation begins. (For example: “This phone call is being recorded for quality control purposes…”).
  • An audible beep tone being repeated at steady intervals during the duration of the conversation.

New York Video Recording Laws

New York allows the installation of video surveillance systems for security purposes as long as the owner of the security system posts a conspicuous notice stating that a video surveillance system has been installed for security purposes. Also, the installation of such a system is legal if the system has been installed in a way that makes the visibility of the security system clearly and immediately obvious.

However, according to N.Y. Penal Law § 250.45, it is considered unlawful surveillance in the second degree to install an imaging device (e.g., video camera) in places where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy without the consent or knowledge of the individual being recorded. These are places such as bedrooms, changing room, fitting room, restroom, toilet, bathroom, washroom, or shower. For example, if you are hosting guests in your house, you are not allowed use surveillance systems to record them when they are in areas where they have a right to privacy (e.g., bedroom). It is also illegal to use an imaging device to view, broadcast or record:

  • Under the clothing being worn by an individual without the consent or knowledge of such individual.
  • Intimate or sexual parts of an individual without the consent or knowledge of such individual.
  • The sexual acts of a person in a surreptitious manner.

Penalties:

N.Y. Penal Law § 250.05: The illegal recording of a conversation is considered a felony.

N.Y. Penal Law § 250.45: Unlawful surveillance in the second degree is considered a Class E felony which carries a sentence of 2 to 5 years or probation.

N.Y. Penal Law § 250.50: An offender who commits the crime of unlawful surveillance in the second degree and has prior convictions of the crime of unlawful surveillance in the first or second degree may be found guilty of unlawful surveillance in the first degree which is classed as a Class D felony and carries a sentence of 1 to 7 years or probation.

N.Y. Penal Law § 250.55: A person who spreads images of intimate or sexual parts of an individual that were obtained through unlawful surveillance may be found guilty of dissemination of an unlawful surveillance image in the second degree, which is classed as a Class A misdemeanor and carries a maximum jail term of 1 year or 3 years probation.

New York Recording Law FAQ’s

Can I Record Surveillance Video in New York?

New York State does not have any criminal laws regarding outdoor surveillance cameras, but they do have a civil one. The Backyard Surveillance Law was signed into effect as a result of a convicted sex offender training his camera into the backyard of a neighbour. The family called law enforcement, but they were powerless to do anything. While this law does not make it a criminal offense to train an outdoor surveillance camera towards a neighbour, it does make it something that a civil suit can be brought forward for.

How do I Gain Consent to Make a Recording?

Showing someone signing a photo and video consent form

As New York is a one-party consent state if you are taking part in the conversation or phone call you do not need to gain consent. However if you are acting as a third party you will need to do one of the following:

  • Get verbal or written consent prior to the recording being made.
  • Play a verbal notification being played before the conversation begins. (For example: “This phone call is being recorded for quality control purposes…”).
  • An audible beep tone being repeated at steady intervals during the duration of the conversation.

Can I Record a City Council Meeting?

New York allows for people that are attending public meetings such as city council or town board meetings to record as long as they don’t negatively affect the proceedings.

Is a Recorded Conversation Admissable in New York?

Both New York State and Federal Courts consider a recorded phone conversation to be inadmissible hearsay. However, there are many exceptions that apply wherein a recorded conversation would be admissible. A recorded conversation may be admitted for impeachment purposes, as a party admission, a declaration against interest, an inconsistent statement, or admitted as a contemporaneous statement.

How do I Transcribe an Audio Recording?

There are many methods to transcribe audio. You can do it yourself simply in a word document, hire someone to transcribe it, or use an audio transcription service. We recommend using this transcription service because they combine the accuracy of humans with the cost-effectiveness of AI. The turn around time is 12 hours and if necessary you can have them sign a standard NDA.

16 thoughts on “New York Audio and Video Recording Laws”

    • New York is a one party consent state, so if you’re taking part of the conversation then you are within your rights to record the conversation. That being said, since it’s for a job it is best practice to inform them that you are recording.

      Reply
    • New York is a one party consent state, so unless you are in a place with what is called ‘A reasonable expectation of privacy’ then your rights are quite limited. These places would typically be in areas like bedrooms, bathrooms, in your own home. If you are in a public place and someone is recording you again, you are quite limited.

      If you are in a public place, asking to not be recorded is your best bet.

      Reply
  1. Is a therapist’s office considered an expectation of privacy? Is a phone call in the middle of a busy front desk area considered an expectation or privacy?

    Reply
    • Hi Pam,
      Typically anywhere inside an actual therapists office would be a place you would consider private, although a lot of therapists will still record your conversation. Outside of the therapists office in hallways and main gathering areas there is less expectation of privacy. These would be similar to how you would treat hallways in apartment buildings.

      That being said a therapists office should be an intensely personal/safe space so I would expect the office to take precautions to make sure that their clients feel safe.

      Reply
  2. Can i record my conversation with my husband inside a therapist office?
    Can I record my conversation with my husband while he is near the front desk in a hospital setting?

    Reply
    • Inside a therapists office there would be an expectation of privacy. Outside of the therapist office in a public place such as a hospital front desk you would be able to record the conversation as long as you are a participant in the conversation. For example, you are not able to record a conversation between your husband and a nurse.

      Reply
  3. I would like to record certain conversations at work that I have with my boss. Do I have the right to do as I wish with that recording? Or do I need consent to distribute?

    Reply
    • As New York is a one party consent state, as long as you are taking part in the conversation the recordings are legal to own and distribute.

      Reply
  4. If I am on a phone conversation and have not given my consent to be recorded and the other party records the conversation, is that illegal in NYC?

    Reply
    • Hi Joe,
      New York is a one party consent state, so it is not necessary for them to inform you they are recording the conversation as long as the person recording is taking part in the conversation.

      Reply
  5. I have a physical disability involving my hands. I purchased a strap-on device that holds my cell phone over my chest. I’ve been the victim of many public place incidents so I felt with this option, I would have physical tangible/recording evidence if it happens again. Being NY is a one party consent state and I am using this as I walk on the sidewalk or go into a grocery store (and not in a private setting as outlined above) am I legally protected or being unlawful if someone questions me on whether they are being recorded?

    Reply
    • Hi Peter,

      Seeing as New York is a one party consent state you are within your rights to record in public places such as sidewalks. You may run into issues in other places you mentioned such as grocery stores or malls as these are private places and are allowed to enforce their own rules such as ‘No recording allowed’

      Reply
  6. If I work inside a private doctor’s office, and the doctor places cameras in every room, recording video and audio, even in an exam room (patient’s do not get undressed or anything), is this a violation of HIPAA law as well as a violation of NYS Recording Law? I have not given any written consent to be recorded nor has my patients.

    Reply
    • Hi Betsy!

      New York is a one-party consent state, what this means is that they would be allowed to record with the consent of one person (either doctor or patient). This could be accomplished by having the patient sign a waiver before entering or if they had the consent of all staff.

      Additionally HIPPA has some additional restrictions that must be followed for patient safety. So it’s less the act of recording the patient and more protecting the information and data acquired in that recording.

      Reply

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