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The California Supreme Court requires the consent of all parties to record phone calls

On April 1, 2021, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the state’s ban on recording calls without consent applies to those participating in the call, not just third-party eavesdroppers. Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye wrote on behalf of the court that California’s Criminal Code “prohibits parties and non-parties from intentionally recording a communication transmitted between a cellular phone or cordless phone and any other device without the consent of all parties to the communication. ”

The California Supreme Court decision overturned an appeals court ruling that only non-parties to the call are prohibited from recording the call. According to the appeals court, the company that made the recording had not broken California law as it was a party to the call.

The California Supreme Court decision is in line with the state’s focus on individual privacy rights and protection. The Court found that “[r]Recording a communication without the speaker’s consent can create significant privacy concerns, whether a party or another person is making the recording. “

The case will be referred back to the Court of Appeal for further processing to verify that the “beep” at the beginning of the call was sufficient to indicate that the conversation was being recorded. This is the problem that the court appealed.

Read the Court’s full opinion.

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