Rhode Island Recording Law Summary:
Is Rhode Island a One Party Consent State?
Rhode Island recording law stipulates that it is a one-party consent state. In Rhode Island, it is a criminal offense to use any device to record or share 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 Rhode Island, you are legally allowed to record a conversation if you are a contributor, or with prior consent from one of the involved parties, barring any criminal intentions. It is also lawful to share the details of a conversation that has become widely circulated or available to the public. R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-35-21 (2012).
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You may not record or share conversations that you are not a part of without the consent of at least one party.
However, Rhode Island 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. R.I. Gen. Laws § 12-5.1.
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.
Examples of Legal Recordings of Confidential Communication in Rhode Island
- Hitting record on your phone prior to going into a meeting with your boss.
- Recording a telephone conversation without informing the other party.
- Using a recording device to record a meeting at a restaurant.
- Recording a public demonstration or speech.
- Recording in an area where there is no expectation of privacy such as a public park.
- A police interaction where you are not interfering with the police officer’s ability to do their job.
Examples of Illegal Recordings in Rhode Island
In Rhode Island, it is against the law to make a recording of a conversation that you are not taking a part in. Some examples of this would be:
- Leaving a recording device in a room after you leave to record a conversation you are not part of.
- Aiming a surveillance camera into an area of a neighbour’s home where there is an expectation of privacy such as an interior window or bedroom.
Rhode Island Video Recording Laws
It is considered video voyeurism, for sexual gratification purposes, to:
- Use, install or permit the installation or use of an imaging device to capture, record, store or transmit visual images of another person’s intimate parts without the knowledge and consent of that person and in circumstances in which the person concerned has a reasonable expectation of privacy.
- Intentionally and knowingly disseminate, publish or sell materials obtained in violation of the law mentioned above without the consent of the person(s) depicted in the materials.
Rhode Island Video Surveillance Laws
Rhode Island has a specific law related to the usage of surveillance video and video voyeurism, so it is illegal if a person:
A) Uses, installs or permits the use or installation of an imaging device to capture, record, store or transmit visual images of the intimate areas of another person without that other person’s knowledge and consent, and under circumstances in which that other person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
B) Intentionally, and with knowledge that the image was obtained in violation of subsect (A), disseminates, publishes, or sells such image of the capture representation of another person or persons depicted in the representation or reproduction, and who did not consent to the dissemination, publication, or sale.
2) A person is also guilty of video voyeurism when that person, for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification or stimulation, looks into an occupied dwelling or other building by use of an imagin device that provides images of the interior of a dwelling.
3) A person found guilty of the crime of video voyeurism shall be imprisoned for not more than three (3) years in jail and/or fined not more than five thousand dollars ($5000)R.I. Gen. Laws § 11‐64‐2
Rhode Islands video voyeurism law makes it illegal to secretly videotape, film, photograph, or otherwise record another person. This means that a camera can not be place in an area where it intentionally records someone in a state of undress OR there is an expectation of privacy.
For example, it is against the law to point your security camera to look into the interior of your neighbor’s house. Additionally , installing or using a camera inside a changing room or restroom is illegal because people using such rooms have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-35-21: Recording a conversation in violation of Rhode Island law is an offense subject to up to five years in prison.
R.I. Gen. Laws § 11‐64‐2(3): Video voyeurism is punishable by imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or a fine not exceeding $5000, or both.