In the current age of technology, owning and carrying a cell phone has become commonplace, even with school-aged children. This fact has been a growing issue in a particular school district in Indiana, where students have secretly been recording teachers via cell phones and sharing those conversations and videos recordings on social media. Some of these videos have even been edited out of context to try and make the teacher look bad. How is it possible that these students were allowed to record teachers and post it without any legal ramifications secretly? This is because Indiana has a “one-party consent” law for recording conversations and allows video recordings in any public place.
In a world of everything going viral and being posted on the Internet, it is easy to imagine every student in a classroom having a cell phone and being able to record anything they want. But even beyond a classroom, any conversation you have or any place you go presents a chance of being recorded without your knowledge and consent.
For conversation recordings, Indiana has adopted a “one-party consent” law. Ind. Code 35 -31.5 – 2 – 176 and Ind. Code 35 – 33.5 – 5 – 5. “One-party consent” laws only require one party in the conversation to consent to be recorded. In states that recognize “one-party consent,” the other party or parties do not have to be notified that they are being recorded. This means that a person can secretly record a conversation without the knowledge of the other party and it is completely legal.
Under Indiana’s “one-party consent” law, police can monitor conversations between informants and suspects without violating the suspect’s rights to unreasonable searches and seizures that are protected by the Fourth Amendment. Lawhorn v. State, 452 N.E.2d 915 (Ind. 1983). “One-party consent,” however, does not cover listening in on a conversation in which neither party has given consent or wiretapping.
Other states like California have laws that require “all-party consent.” In states that have these laws, all parties to a conversation must consent to be recorded. If one party does not want to be recorded or is not told that their conversation is being recorded, it is illegal.
Video recordings have a different standard for legality than conversation recordings. Video recordings are legal in any place that is considered public. Examples of this would include concert venues, malls, parks, and roads, or any place that the general public is allowed. This standard allows video recordings to be legal even on property that it privately held as long as the general public is allowed, while excluding places where one reasonable has an expectation of privacy, like one’s home.