How and when is it legal to a) record someone without their awareness and/or consent, b) broadcast or publish that recording and c) use that recording in court ?

I think it's illegal to use that kind of recording in court at all, for example police was thrown out because they recorded criminals in jail without their awareness, and that was considered invalid. But does that extend to someone receiving (for example) death threats from anonymous phone calls, and deciding to record their calls ?

The distinction I'm making between recording and publishing the recording is that it's how it works for photos : you usually have the right to photograph about anything (military bases are an exception), but privacy and the "right of image" prevent publishing things unless they are in a public context (sort of). Is it the same for audio recordings ?

In general, I'm asking to what extent there are restrictions on recording someone without telling them in the context where the recorded person may exert a threat on, or assault, the recording person. Also, let's stay in contexts where the recording person is part of the conversation, i.e is at one end of a phone call or has a mic on physically. Not cases of leaving a microphone under a table or wiretapping someone.

  • IANAL (or French), but I found this: recordinglaw.com/france-recording-laws/…. Mar 30, 2023 at 13:30
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    @Clockwork only partially, and the validated answer is inaccurate when it compares audio recording to pictures being taken, as saying both are illegal without consent but it's only publication that's forbidden in the case of images. So, no. I'll review the sources of Ben Hocking's answer when I find the time. Apr 1, 2023 at 15:32
  • @Gouvernathor Interesting. I'll be most interested in having your answer on my question too if you find something.
    – Clockwork
    Apr 1, 2023 at 18:28

1 Answer 1


According to this, it's illegal in France to record without awareness, and generally illegal without consent (though consent can be implied). Here's the most relevant portion:

In France, it is illegal to record or transmit conversations (including phone conversations) without the consent of all the parties to the conversation.

However, if the recording is done in full view of the concerned parties without them objecting to it when they are in a position to do so, then consent is presumed, and you’re allowed to record the conversation.

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