New York Recording Laws

New York Recording Law Summary:New York Recording Law

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).

Personal Conversations:

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.

10 Comments

  1. Ahmed

    I have a first hearing at job, can I record?

    Reply
    • Adam

      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
  2. Lisa

    If I am the person being recorded and I do NOT wish to be recorded what rights do I have?

    Reply
    • Adam

      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
  3. Pam

    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
    • Adam

      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
  4. Pam

    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
    • Adam

      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
  5. John

    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
    • Adam

      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

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