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Old 13-06-2010, 02:50 PM   #1
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Secretly recording conversations

Totally off topic, apart from the fact that it relates to some programmes that feature cars.

What is the law with regards to secretly recording conversations? I see numerous examples on comsumer programmes which seek to unearth unscrupulous traders, where a journalist equipped with a hidden camera will pose as a consumer, record a conversation and then use this as evidence to confront the trader at a later date. I can even think of a Top Gear episode where Rover had refused to allow them a test drive, so James May went to a dealer with a secret camera in his bag, and recorded a car review. Not that he was criticising the Rover dealer, but it still involved a secret recording which was then broadcast.

Mrs. K tells me it is illegal to secretly record a conversation to later use as evidence, but this seems to be exactly what a lot of these programmes do.
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Old 13-06-2010, 03:00 PM   #2
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Funny you should mention that...

In fact it is a fairly complex question, in that circumstances change what you can and can not do, and even then, ask three lawyers about a fixed set of circumstances and you'll get 5 different answers, at least.

What you have to do is weigh the potential penalties, against the potential gains, and make your choice.

For example, after consulting SWARB website etc, because I am involved in a long running and particularly vicious separation / child custody dispute, I bought an Olympus VN-6800PC digital recorder.

I then used it to record a CAFCASS interview, and all I can say is boy am I glad I did, even if I never use the damn thing again for one use it worked out around 50 an hour of recording time, and frankly it was worth several orders of magnitude more than that.

So my advice would be this, you have done some research, found NO EVIDENCE THAT IT IS ILLEGAL, so stop looking for more information right now.
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Old 13-06-2010, 03:04 PM   #3
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I used it when my kids were young and their mother (who had decamped to the US) was filling there heads with s**t. I recorded 'phone conversations, transcribed them and used them in court. And won.
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Old 13-06-2010, 05:25 PM   #4
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My understanding is that it is illegal to record a conversation between two third parties, i.e. you can't eavesdrop, but it is perfectly legal for you to record a conversation between you and another person even without his/her knowledge.

As for call centres who inform you that the call may be recorded - I am not sure if this is done as curtsey or is a legal requirement - but either way the laws covering interactions between businesses and the public are different to those for private individuals. So in short I am pretty sure that even if call centres are obliged by law to inform customers re recording of conversations, no such obligation is applicable for private people.
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Old 13-06-2010, 05:30 PM   #5
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My understanding is that it is illegal to record a conversation between two third parties, i.e. you can't eavesdrop, but it is perfectly legal for you to record a conversation between you and another person even without his/her knowledge.
yes, in law that is an UTTERLY different scenario from having a digital recorder on your person and recording YOUR conversations.

It is spying, the audio equivalent of ME hiding a video camera in YOUR bedroom.
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Old 13-06-2010, 05:37 PM   #6
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It is spying, the audio equivalent of ME hiding a video camera in YOUR bedroom.
You hid a video camera in my bedroom?
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Old 13-06-2010, 05:52 PM   #7
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You hid a video camera in my bedroom?
I did, but for some reason your wife pointed it out the window... and all I got was this.

YouTube - Car full of golf balls
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Old 14-06-2010, 08:40 PM   #8
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........

As for call centres who inform you that the call may be recorded....
I always interpret this as the company giving me permission to record the call
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Old 04-06-2013, 01:16 PM   #9
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only last night I had a neighbour telling me to "f ck off back to Scotland you gypsy" and started saying he was going to get people to me and then his massive family came out and started on me and my 13 year old daughter and my phone accidentally started to record.
This was all down to him using a still saw, cutting bricks and slabs at 9pm when my daughter was going to bed so I asked him if he thought it was a bit late to be doing it and then saying to the police it was me causing the trouble.
I really wanted to say to the police I had a recording but I knew it was illegal to record someone without them knowing
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Old 04-06-2013, 01:38 PM   #10
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only last night I had a neighbour telling me to "f ck off back to Scotland you gypsy" and started saying he was going to get people to me and then his massive family came out and started on me and my 13 year old daughter and my phone accidentally started to record.
This was all down to him using a still saw, cutting bricks and slabs at 9pm when my daughter was going to bed so I asked him if he thought it was a bit late to be doing it and then saying to the police it was me causing the trouble.
I really wanted to say to the police I had a recording but I knew it was illegal to record someone without them knowing
Your recording is perfectly legal you were filming in a public place or on your own property and had no duty to inform the other party you were filming. It would also be admissible as evidence if the matter went to court, the police and magistrates welcome such video evidence 2 videos captured from my in car camera have been used to prosecute people so fear not
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Old 04-06-2013, 01:42 PM   #11
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only last night I had a neighbour telling me to "f ck off back to Scotland you gypsy" and started saying he was going to get people to me and then his massive family came out and started on me and my 13 year old daughter and my phone accidentally started to record.
This was all down to him using a still saw, cutting bricks and slabs at 9pm when my daughter was going to bed so I asked him if he thought it was a bit late to be doing it and then saying to the police it was me causing the trouble.
I really wanted to say to the police I had a recording but I knew it was illegal to record someone without them knowing
Hope the caravan and transit are still in one piece.
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Old 04-06-2013, 02:01 PM   #12
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As far I know it is legal to record any conversation as long as at least one party to the conversation agrees.

What is illegal is to record a conversation when none of the participants are aware.

So you can freely record any conversation between yourself and anyone else even if the other party is unaware that you are recording them.

That's what I know - someone else might confirm...
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Old 04-06-2013, 02:15 PM   #13
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A common thread running through all the 'Cops and Robbers' programmes is that when the baddie complains about the camera, the police's reply is always "He's on public property, he can film what he likes".
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Old 04-06-2013, 03:05 PM   #14
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A common thread running through all the 'Cops and Robbers' programmes is that when the baddie complains about the camera, the police's reply is always "He's on public property, he can film what he likes".
I think the issue is more about what is submissible as evidence in court, rather than the legalities of filming/recording. I think it used to be that the third party had to be made aware that a conversation was being recorded if the purpose of the recording was for legal purposes, but I suspect that may have changed somewhat.
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Old 04-06-2013, 03:11 PM   #15
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Mrs. K tells me it is illegal to secretly record a conversation to later use as evidence, but this seems to be exactly what a lot of these programmes do.

Mrs K is on the right track, but not to the right extent. If I remember correctly, a recording made secretly may not be admissible as evidence in a criminal trial. This does not mean that the making of the recording was illegal in itself.
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