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Wisconsin Recording Laws

Wisconsin Recording Law Summary:Wisconsin Recording Law

Wisconsin recording law stipulates that it is a one-party consent state. In Wisconsin, 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 Wisconsin, 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. Wis. Stat. Ann. § 968.31 (West 2011).

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, Wisconsin 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.

Courts consider a number of factors to determine whether the expectation of privacy can be considered reasonable:

  • The length of the communication.
  • The possibility for nearby individuals to eavesdrop and/or report on the conversation.
  • Which steps were taken to ensure the speaker’s privacy.
  • Whether it was necessary to amplify the conversation in order for it to be overheard.
  • The location where the communication took place.

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.

Penalties:

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 968.31: Recording a conversation in violation of Wisconsin law is considered a felony.