Private conversations and who may record them

CAN you record a private conversation?

Interestingly, whether or not it is illegal to record a private conversation depends on the legislation governing that topic.

The legislation is different in each state and territory.

Here in Queensland the relevant legislation is called the Invasion of Privacy Act 1971 (“Act”).

The Act tells us that, if you are party to a private conversation then you can record the conversation. You do not need consent.

However, just because it may be legal to record a conversation that you are having does not mean that you can then do what you want with the audio.

You can only use the recording in a manner that complies with the Act (generally with the consent of all other parties to the conversation).

Breaching the Act could constitute an offence under section 45(1), which can attract a hefty financial penalty or imprisonment of up to two years.

There are, of course, some exceptions to the general rule that you cannot use the recording without consent and this usually relates to using the recording in legal proceedings (assuming that it is admissible and able to be used).

There are some exceptions that apply to the use of devices to record conversations that someone is not party to, for example recordings made by police with relevant authority.

You’re best getting legal advice on whether or not use of a recording may breach the Act before you use it!

Until next week – Keep it Legal!

Katie Caldow

*The legal information in this article is of a general nature only and not intended to be legal advice to rely upon.

Walker PenderPrivate conversations and who may record them