What if Taylor Swift and Kanye West lived in Queensland. Could they legally record their conversation?

Telephone conversations and recording devices

These days I often hear and see on social media discussions regarding the recording of conversations.  More recently the alleged telephone conversation between Kanye West and Taylor Swift went viral. The first thing I thought of when I heard about this was, really? that’s the news? this was quickly followed by, “you can’t do that in Queensland.”

The federal legislation provides that it is illegal to record a telephone call with a device physically attached to the phone (mobile or landline) except where authorised  in specific circumstances (generally these are related to warrants etc).  (Telecommunications (interception) Act 1979 (Cth)).

Queensland law is not as strict as some of the other states and territories when it comes to the recording of other conversations.  In brief, Queensland law states;

  • You can legally record a telephone conversation with an external device provided you are a person who is a party to the conversation;
  • You can legally record a face to face conversation if you are a party to the conversation;
  • It is illegal to record a conversation (whether by telephone or face to face) if you are not a party to that conversation.  (Invasion of Privacy Act 1971 (Qld))

However, if you are recording conversations, with a view to use them as evidence, then you should obtain legal advice as the law differs on the admissibility of recordings in the different types of legal actions.  If you do lawfully record a conversation then you should also be aware that the publication or communication of that private conversation is prohibited in all jurisdictions.

So, if this alleged incident involving Kanye and Taylor occurred in Queensland;

  • The device recording the alleged conversation could not be attached to a phone being used by Kanye or Taylor;
  • The device recording the alleged conversation must have been recorded by either Kanye or Taylor not a third person (this si because only Kanye and Taylor are a “party” to the conversation) ; and
  • Both Kanye and Taylor would be prohibited from publication or communication of the recording (i.e they cannot release the recording  to the media (or anyone else)).

However, before you run off and start recording conversations you are a part of, you should consider the purpose of a recording and if you legally can record the conversation.  If it is for evidence, then you should seek legal advice about your circumstances for seeking the recording, the manner of the recording, the admissibility of the recording and the impact (good or bad) the recording could have on your case, as despite contrary belief, not all recordings are looked upon favourably by a Court.

For further general information relating to current laws about recording telephone conversations, see the Australian Information Commission https://www.oaic.gov.au/about-us/ and the Queensland Information Commissioner  https://www.oic.qld.gov.au/

Please also remember that these articles are providing brief general information and should not be construed as legal advice.  Should you have a legal question or situation you should engage the services of a lawyer to provide you with advice on the current law specific to your circumstances.

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