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California Rules Secret Call Recordings Still Illegal in Ruling for Privacy Rights

As of April 1st, the California Supreme Court has ruled that California’s prohibition against recording phone calls without consent applies to everyone on the call. The ruling comes after several years of legal proceedings fought by the Law Offices of Todd Friedman, alongside other notable consumer protection law firms, on behalf of the plaintiff Jeremiah Smith.

Smith filed his lawsuit in 2016, claiming that the loan provider LoanMe had recorded him on a phone call without his consent. His argument was that California’s penal code Section 632.7 clearly states that it is a crime to record or intercept a phone call without all parties’ consent.

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Smith and the Law Offices of Todd Friedman appealed to the California Supreme Court for review on the basis of the Fourth Appellate Court’s decision conflicting with previous case law. The entire California Supreme Court bench voted to hear the case, and the review was granted. Upon deliberation, the justices came to a unanimous decision reversing the Fourth Appellate Court’s decision.

Per the ruling, Section 632.7 applies to both parties and nonparties alike. According to Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, the previous ruling by the court of appeal’s decision was the “first published opinion by a California appellate court to have specifically addressed whether section 632.7 applies to the intentional recording of a communication by a party” and it “departs from the majority view of the federal district courts that have considered the same issue.”

The new ruling is a significant victory for privacy in California. Now, because of the hard work of the Law Offices of Todd Friedman, California residents’ rights to private communication remain intact. Neither malicious nonparties nor any of the parties on a call may use non-consensual call recordings against others. The California Supreme Court has clarified the scope of Section 632.7, and everyone in the state can feel secure in their right to that privacy.