Between smartphones, drones and cameras the size of a grain of salt, technology has created a world in which it is almost impossible to know when someone is recording you. While that sometimes can lead to uncovering real-time crimes, as in the case of the sexual assault streamed on Facebook live that led to an investigation, it can also lead to invasion of privacy issues.
Understanding your rights under Georgia’s video recording law could help you record without getting into trouble, as well as stand up for yourself if someone has unlawfully recorded you.
The Georgia Wiretapping Law
Like most states, Georgia has passed laws restricting citizens’ rights to spy on, survey and record others. Georgia’s wiretapping, eavesdropping, surveillance and related offenses laws are found mainly in Georgia Codes 16-11-62 and 16-11-66. Section 16-11-62 says it is unlawful to intentionally record people in certain situations without their consent.
- A private conversation in a private place
- The activities of a person in a private place, out of public view
- If the person has to trespass in a private place to record
- An intentionally intercepted letter, phone or telegraph message
- The disclosure of information from a lawfully intercepted communication to an unauthorized person
- Unlawfully sold or distributed recordings of the activities of another person in a private place
It is against the law to invade the privacy of someone else to record that person. Section 16-11-66 of the law says it is also illegal to record a minor under the age of 18 without consent from the child’s parents or with an order from a judge. Georgia takes citizens’ privacy seriously. Breaking Georgia’s recording laws could constitute a felony, punishable with up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
One-Party Consent Law
The language of Georgia’s wiretapping law explains that it is a one-party consent law when it comes to recording other people’s audio conversations. It is against the law in Georgia to secretly record conversations that happen in private places unless at least one of the parties gives his or her consent. This rule applies to phone and in-person conversations in private locations.
Even if a phone conversation involves multiple parties, the person recording only needs one person’s permission to capture the entire conversation. An exception may exist if the other people on the phone are in different states. In this case, each state may have different rules and require each person’s consent.
Hidden Camera Laws
Georgia also has a special law regarding hidden cameras. Ga. Code 16-11-62(2) says it is a crime to use a hidden camera or another device to photograph, observe or record someone else while that person is in a private place away from public view. To lawfully record these activities, a person must gain the consent of all parties in the video or photographs. Violating the hidden camera provision could result in criminal charges and a civil lawsuit from the people in the recording who did not give their consent.
Recording Public Hearings
It is not illegal to record public court hearings or meetings, as long as the person does so within the state’s restrictions. To record a trial or court hearing, the person must file a written request with the courtroom’s judge. Many judges only allow one recording device at a time. It is against the law to televise or take photographs of the jury. To record at the Court of Appeals, a person must file a written request at least seven days in advance. Recordings for use on the television or radio must first go through the court for approval.
The Georgia Supreme Court allows recording and broadcasting without approval first as long as the device does not detract from the dignity of the trial. The Supreme Court has the right to restrict or prohibit recording or photographing as it sees fit during a case. Georgia law does not restrict the right to record public meetings.