IF you struggle with your memory or want to gather evidence of a telephone scam et cetera, recording the conversation might seem like the most sensible option.

But is it illegal to record a conversation in the UK without the other person's consent?

Is it illegal to record a conversation in the UK?

Having a conversation with someone while recording what they're saying is not illegal in most cases.

There are stricter rules on the distribution of the material picked up on the device.

The regulations vary between businesses and individuals.

Generally speaking, it's not a crime to record a conversation without telling someone.

And although it could potentially be considered a breach of their privacy, it's not a criminal offence to secretly record calls for your own use.



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It's more of a possible civil wrong, which can be redressed with a claim for damages.

The legal aspect comes in to the equation if someone shares the recording without the consent of the people on the call.

If you sell a recording to a third-party or release it to the public without consent from others involved in the conversation, this enters murky legal waters and could be a criminal offence.

However, journalists can publish secret recordings without a legal backlash, provided they can prove the released recording is in the public interest.



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What can you do if someone records your conversation without consent?

If another person has recorded your conversation without your consent, there isn't much you can do, legally speaking.

The closest you'd get to legal action would be a civil claim, where you could potentially win a damages payout if you can prove your privacy was breached.

However, it's a far more serious breach of the law if a business has recorded a call without one of the legal justifications.

Secret government phone recording also goes on for security reasons, but this only takes place when spooks are given a legal warrant to do so.

So the state shouldn't be snooping in on your calls unless they have a reason to suspect you're up to something.

Is it legal for businesses to record phone calls without telling you?

While conversations between individuals aren't really regulated, there are laws in place to stop businesses recording conversations.

GDPR  — the General Data Protection Regulation — came into effect in 2016.

However, since Brexit the Data Protection Act 2018 is the UK’s implementation of GDPR.

Everyone in a position of responsibility must obey the following rules when using personal data and ensure the information is:

  • used fairly, lawfully and transparently
  • used for specified, explicit purposes
  • used in a way that is adequate, relevant and limited to only what is necessary
  • accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date
  • kept for no longer than is necessary
  • handled in a way that ensures appropriate security, including protection against unlawful or unauthorised processing, access, loss, destruction or damage

There is stronger legal protection for more sensitive information, including:

  • race
  • ethnicity
  • political opinions/affiliation
  • religious beliefs
  • trade union membership
  • genetics
  • biometrics (where used for identification)
  • health
  • sex life or orientation

There are also separate safeguards for personal data in relation to criminal convictions and offences.


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