Generally speaking, federal law is supreme and supersedes state and local law unless those laws are more restrictive. Some states require two-party consent for recordings of conversations, while some require that only one party privy to the conversation gives consent. (Out of an abundance of caution and simplicity, a two-party consent law should be interpreted as an “all-party” consent requirement). Additionally, some states have a hybrid version of the consent requirement, such as Colorado, which requires that an individual not involved or present in the conversation have the consent of at least one party directly involved.
Federal law requires one party consent for recording conversations (via telephone or otherwise). A few of the states that have a more restrictive law (two-party) include California, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington. Nearly all states provide an extensive list of exceptions to consent for recordings captured by emergency services, court order, etc. Since telephone conversations can be placed and received in multiple locations with differing laws, it would probably be best practice to advise all parties involved in a telephone conversation that they being recorded. (We’ve all encountered the disclosure,“This call may be recorded for quality assurance or training purposes,” which is designed to prevent wiretapping law violations.)
Pennsylvania is one of the “two-party” (or “all-party”) states that requires all parties recorded give consent to such recordings. Incidentally, that means that even readily available cell phone apps designed to record conversations could be an invitation (no matter the intent) to violating the Pennsylvania Wiretap Act, without all parties explicit consent, and could amount to a felony offense. Remember, the best way to sort through the complex wiretapping laws of Pennsylvania is to consult a knowledgeable attorney.
Nonetheless, it’s safe to say that any type of surreptitious recording of private conversations in Pennsylvania (outside lawful exceptions) without consent of all parties involved are unlawful. Laws are legislated for a reason and that’s good, but remember that the bad guys don’t follow the law, and the only way to proactively combat eavesdropping is through technical security countermeasures.
Technical Security Countermeasures are systems designed to combat eavesdropping. Forletta Investigative/Security Consultant employs a team of experts with over 100 years of combined investigative experience. Based in Pittsburgh, PA and licensed in Pennsylvania and Ohio, Forletta can help you combat eavesdropping through state-of-the-art technical security countermeasures.
Call Forletta today for a full evaluation of your technical security countermeasure needs!