South Carolina Recording Law Summary:
South Carolina recording law stipulates that it is a one-party consent state. In South Carolina, 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 South Carolina, you are legally allowed to record a conversation if you are a contributor, or with prior consent from one of the involved parties. S.C. Code Ann. § 17-30-30 (2011).
You may not record or share conversations that you are not a part of without the consent of at least one party.
However, South Carolina 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.
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.
South Carolina Video Recording Laws
It is against the law to be an eavesdropper or peeping tom on or about the premises of another person or to go to another person’s premises for the purpose of eavesdropping or becoming a peeping tom. Peeping tom, as used in this section, refers to both those who use the unaided eye and those who use audio and video equipment to invade other people’s privacy while they are inside their premises. S.C. Code Ann. § 16‐17‐ 470(A)
It is considered a crime of voyeurism, for sexual gratification purposes, to knowingly view, photograph, audio or video record, produce or create a digital electronic file, or film another person without the knowledge or consent of that person, while he or she is in a place where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. S.C. Code Ann. § 16‐17‐ 470(B) For example, installing a camera in a restroom or pointing your security camera at your neighbor’s backyard is illegal because these are places where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.
Note that the law allows security surveillance:
- For the purposes of decreasing or prosecuting theft, shoplifting, or other security surveillance measures in bona fide business establishments.
- For any official law enforcement activities.
- By private detectives and investigators conducting surveillance in the ordinary course of business.
- For bona fide news gathering activities.
S.C. Code Ann. § 16‐17‐ 470(E)
S.C. Code Ann. § 17-30-20: Recording a conversation in violation of South Carolina law is considered a felony.
S.C. Code Ann. § 16‐17‐ 470(A): Eavesdropping and becoming a peeping tom in violation of South Carolina video recording laws is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or a fine not exceeding $500, or both.
S.C. Code Ann. § 16‐17‐ 470(B)(1)(2): A crime of voyeurism, for a first offense, is punishable by imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or a fine not exceeding $500, or both. For a second or subsequent offense, offenders may be found guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment not exceeding 5 years or a fine ranging from $500 to $5000, or both.
S.C. Code Ann. § 16‐17‐ 470(C): Selling or distributing materials obtained in violation of the state’s video recording laws is considered a crime of aggravated voyeurism. Offenders may be found guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment not exceeding 10 years or a fine ranging from $500 to $5000, or both.