Wisconsin Recording Laws

Wisconsin Recording Law Summary: Wisconsin Recording Law

Is Wisconsin a One Party Consent State?

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).

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Evidence that is obtained by recording communication is ‘totally’ inadmissable in civil court cases. Regardless of who took the recording, the only way a recording can be admissable in a civil case is with the consent of the person recorded.

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.

Wisconsin Video Recording Laws

It is illegal to knowingly install or use a surveillance device in a private place for the purpose of observing a person in a state of full or partial nudity without the consent of that person. For example, if your sharing a room with another person, it is illegal to surveil your roommate while he or she is in the bathroom or bedroom because that is place where a person might be fully or partially nude and expect to be free from surveillance. Wis. Stat. Ann. § 942.08(2)(a)

It is also against the law to knowingly install or use any device, instrument, mechanism, or contrivance to intentionally view, broadcast, or record under the outer clothing of an individual for the purpose of capturing that individual’s intimate areas that would not otherwise be visible to the public, without that individuals consent. Wis. Stat. Ann. § 942.08(3)


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

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 942.08(2), (4): Installing or using surveillance devices in private places in violation of the state’s video recording laws is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment not exceeding 9 months or a fine not exceeding $10,000, or both. If the victim is under 18 years, the offense is classed as a Class I felony.

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 942.08(3): Recording another person’s intimate parts under that person’s clothing without consent is a Class I felony punishable by imprisonment not exceeding 3 years and 6 months or a fine not exceeding $10,000, or both.

2 thoughts on “Wisconsin Recording Laws”

  1. I started taking domestic abuse classes at the end of September. Yesterday I had just received the consent form to sign.
    I do not agree that I am being video tapped without my knowledge and am very upset about it. Can anything be done legally?

    • Wisconsin is a one party consent state, so this means that if the class has the approval of the instructor they are within their rights to record the class.
      Wisconsin does make exceptions in cases where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, although as they are sending out consent forms I do not think this would qualify.
      Ideally they would take your wishes into account, especially for something as personal as a domestic abuse class…but unfortunately they are within their rights to record the class.
      Speaking with a lawyer who knows more about your situation might be helpful.


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