Does recording zoom meetings follow the same laws as recording telephone calls?

For instance, if I’m in a one-party consent state, and I record a zoom meeting, do I have to notify the other party? I know that as a courtesy I should but I’m talking about legalities.

You are not a lawyer. And if you are, you’re certainly not my lawyer. This isn’t legal advice. I should just give up.

I am not a lawyer either. What I can tell you is that I’ve been attending town planning board meetings by Zoom in New York State. These are legally public meetings and anyone can attend, which may or may not be relevant. And every time I join such a meeting I get a notice from Zoom saying that the meeting is being recorded and asking me whether I still want to join the meeting or would prefer to leave it.

I don’t know whether that notice is automatic for Zoom, or whether it’s something that’s set up by the person who organizes the meeting, who isn’t me.

I’m involved with a Zoom meeting of a club board, and the secretary records it. I believe there is a recording icon by her name in the participant list. That’s notification, but I’m not sure it would count as consent - though perhaps it could be implied consent since the icon tells everyone.
The first time we did it we did verbally tell everyone, though.

What happens if the recording starts after you join?
The meeting owner has to give permission for a meeting member to record, by the way. But I’ve never gotten the notification, though I wouldn’t since I’m the one starting the meeting.

Zoom kicked us off a couple of times and I think once I got the recording notice a minute or two after we re-started. I can’t remember what happened the time something went wrong with the recording process and we stopped talking for a couple of minutes while it got fixed, but didn’t exit the meeting – I think there might have been another warning but am not sure.

Anyone watching the stream has the ability to record it outside of Zoom using various screen-capture programs.That probably doesn’t matter in terms of legality, but someone may be recording even if you don’t see the Zoom icon indicating it is being recorded.

Googling, it’s something that can be enabled by someone with access to the account settings.

My inderstanding is that privacy laws generally require an ‘expectation’ that a conversation is private before it’s illegal to record it. Zoom meetings wouldn’t apply, unless perhaps it’s a one-on-one.

I am not a lawyer. I am not an American lawyer. I’ve never used Zoom.

The interpretation of these laws can be complicated and rely on decisions made in previous cases. These would probably inform laws on Zoom. But I don’t know if Zoom or similar technology has specifically been argued.

Laws about telephones may not necessarily apply to all telecommunications. Some depend on expectation of privacy, reasons for recording (easier if business related), if the message is public, if there is implied consent, if there is notification, if there are means of accountability, if others can ask to access recordings, if there are printed policies, if the purpose is reasonable, location, etc. etc. Being able to make a recording is also different from telling others a recording exists, or distributing contents of the recording to other people.

Plenty of other laws may well apply, especially in certain industries, whether they have an Internet presence, advertising, specific purpose and variable privacy laws.

IANAL, but the wise thing to do is to get permission before recording and immediately as the recording starts - even if it’s a group meeting. It’s possible to have group meetings that are still considered private, though the understanding of “privacy” can change depending on the situation.

The thing to remember is that you’re using an electronic device to record a conversation, which is technically considered a form of wiretapping in some jurisdictions. In Zoom, there’s a red button that blinks, telling you and others that the meeting is being recorded, but again, that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone in the meeting agreed to be recorded. If you can record yourself at the start of a meeting saying something to the effect of “Okay, just so everyone is aware, I’m recording now, and the reason is (blather blather blather).” By remaining in the meeting without objection, they’re essentially consenting to being recorded.

I’m currently teaching for a community college using Zoom. The college provides a statement that I put in my syllabus, and repeat during the first class meeting, which basically says:

  • All class meetings are recorded, and by attending class meetings, students are consenting to being recorded.

  • Students are welcome to change the way their name appears, or not talk, if they wish to retain some privacy.

  • Only students in the class, and myself, will ever have access to the recordings. The college will purge the recordings after the quarter is over.

The college is very gung-ho about FERPA and whatnot. If there were any further issues with the legality of recording meetings, then I would need to be aware and follow any further rules they put forth.

In this case, you’re at least making an attempt to be transparent about recording.

I should have made the point that I’m not giving a speech at the beginning of each class meeting. So it is conceivable that a student never read the syllabus, missed the first meeting, and never watched the recording of the first meeting. This student then might claim that they have not consented to being recorded.

I assume, though, that in this case the college feels we are still legally covered.

I’m not certain about Zoom, but similar programs allow the host to record without notifying the participants. Regardless of program settings and regardless of the law, it’s probably a good idea to be transparent when you’re recording people and give them a chance to opt out.

As far as know, there is no legal distinction between a Zoom chat and a phone call or in-person conversation that would be relevant to the legality of recording that conversation. I’m not sure a town hall meeting qualifies as a private conversation, but there may be other laws restricting who’s allowed to record. The courthouse where I work has been doing trials over Webex; because they involve kids, they’re closed to the public by law except for occasional exemptions granted to the media on a case-by-case basis. There’s already been a few instances of attorneys forgetting that they’re not allowed to take photos just because they can get away with it. One guy couldn’t resist snapping a pic of a judge appearing from his airy, sun-drenched home in Malibu. Word is he’s been sacked.

There are different laws regarding recording video, audio, or audio+video together. In general, recording just the video is generally more permissive. That is, just the video part without audio. Other than in an area where privacy is expected (like a bathroom), silent video recording is generally allowed. So you could setup a camera on a street corner and record the video as long as you didn’t record the audio. I would think this would mean you could record the video-only part of the Zoom call without informing the other people. Audio, however, is more restrictive. Whether or not you could record the audio would likely be dependent on your state’s one- or two-party recording laws.

I’m entirely sure that it doesn’t, at least in New York State. All such meetings are legally public meetings, must be publicly announced in advance, and must allow the public to attend (though allowing the public to speak is at some meetings or portions of meetings optional.) There are provisions for executive session, but to do that you first have to properly call a public meeting and state in public that you’re going into executive session and which clause/type of reason for doing so you’re invoking (e.g. discussion of an issue with a specific employee (you don’t name the employee), discussion of price negotiations for selling property, discussion of legal issues involving a lawsuit.)

It occurs to me that we don’t announce we’re recording at in-person meetings; at least, I don’t think we ever have, except once when an audience member announced combatively ‘I’m recording this meeting!’ and was answered calmly ‘That’s fine, so are we’. But at an in-person meeting the recording equipment’s visible on the table, though I don’t know how many people notice it.

You can just read the laws for your state if you’re uncertain. California’s, for example, says:

“A person who, intentionally and without the consent of all parties to a confidential communication, uses an electronic amplifying or recording device to eavesdrop upon or record the confidential communication, whether the communication is carried on among the parties in the presence of one another or by means of a telegraph, telephone, or other device, except a radio, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) per violation, or imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or in the state prison, or by both that fine and imprisonment.”

The “except a radio” part is interesting. IANAL but I assume they’re talking about the old-fashioned broadcasting kind? These days, all cell phones use wi-fi and cellular radios to connect to zoom… wonder what a judge would think about that.

In which state? Is that law or courtesy?

In the early 1990’s, when I bought a device at Radio Shack that permitted me to plug into a telephone and record calls very clearly, the person selling it to me said very clearly, " You know you’re not allowed to use this here in New York State without informing the other party. RIGHT??? "

I said yes, I know. The phrase was along the lines of, " New York State law requires me to inform you that this call is being recorded. " That must be said at the beginning of the call.

Similarly, we all experience this kind of blanket legal disclaimer when calling most if not all customer service/ sales/ support lines. The recording that says, " This call may be monitored or recorded for training purposes " is a mushy way of issuing the same protective statement. The call is being recorded.

I make use of this statement to my advantage sometimes if a call is going south because of unprofessional service being rendered. I gently say, " Well. Since we both know your company is recording this call, and it will be reviewed when I call back and speak to a Supervisor, let’s…try to work this out ok? "

Frequently works.

I am not a lawyer, but I monitor and/or present exhibits in virtual Zoom depositions almost every day. This certainly doesn’t cover all the bases, but in these exercises all parties must agree to recording. Otherwise, the recording won’t be admissible in court. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be recorded for posterity, or for the benefit of the court reporter, but all parties must still agree.