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This legal research guide provides information about surveillance and recording laws, including electronic monitoring in the workplace and consent requirements for recording conversations.
Last Updated: May 26, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Research from Home

If you have a library account in good standing, you can check out an OverDrive e-Book title or access our remote databases. Don't have a library account? Texas residents can register for a library account from home! Learn more about how to register from home.

For more information on your topic, please try searching our eBook collection or electronic databases.


Resources at the State Law Library

Below are some of the library resources that can provide further guidance on this topic. The Texas State Law Library has many other resources in addition to the highlights we present below. Please call us at (512) 463-1722 if you have any questions about these materials.

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Photographer's guide to privacy: what every cameraman, photographer and videographer should know about invasion of privacy standards in the 50 states and D.C. - Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Call Number: KF 1263 U5 P46 2007
Publication Date: 2007
This publication discusses the intersection of the media and journalism and a right to privacy.

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Reporter's recording guide: a state-by-state guide to taping phone calls and in-person conversations [PDF] - Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Call Number: REF DESK KF 4770 R46 2012
Publication Date: 2012
This guide gives an overview of each state's laws on recording conversations as well as highlights select legal aspects of recorded conversations.

Introduction to Recording and the Law

We live in a digital age, and many situations arise wherein you are recorded in one way or another. Aspects of this include red light cameras, taped telephone conversations, and surveillance cameras. This page will provide you with some general information about the laws on these topics and how they intersect with the right to privacy. If you have questions about a specific situation involving audio or video recording, please consult an attorney.

Texas and Federal Law

Below you will find references to areas of the Texas statutes and federal law that govern recording and issues related to recording. If you find these statutes difficult to understand, you may want to look at the "plain English" resources on this page or speak to an attorney.

  • Texas Penal Code sec. 16.02
    This section of the Penal Code discusses the unlawful use, interception, or disclosure of a wire, oral, or electronic communication. Please see this statute for information about recording telephone calls.
  • Texas Penal Code sec. 21.15
    This section of the Penal Code discusses improper photography or visual recordings.
  • Texas Transportation Code ch. 707
    This chapter of the Texas Transportation Code enables the photographic traffic signal enforcement system.
  • 18 USC 119
    Federal law about the interception of oral, electronic, and wire communications.

Explained in "Plain English"

Because Texas and federal law may not be easy to understand, below you'll find a collection of resources that help to explain the law in "plain English."

  • Reporter's Recording Guide: Texas
    Intended for reporters, the Reporter's Committee For Freedom of the Press's guide to taping gives a good overview of recording laws in Texas. This guide is also available in print in the library's collection.
  • Texas Recording Law
    The Digital Media Law Project offers information and a brief interpretation of the Texas recording laws.

Surveillance Cameras in "Plain English"

Surveillance cameras have become a standard security device in modern society. The links below discuss the legal questions involving surveillance cameras and your rights.

  • Video Voyeurism and Surveillance [PDF]
    Produced by VMS solutions, a company that facilitates video monitoring, this article explains the difference between video voyeurism and cameras used for surveillance purposes. It also outlines things to consider if you are considering installing surveillance cameras.
  • Workplace Privacy and Employee Monitoring
    This fact sheet from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse goes into some detail about video surveillance in the workplace.
  • Electronic Monitoring in the Workplace
    This article from the National Workrights Institute provides a discussion of employee monitoring in the workplace and common law and statutory protections.

Legal Research Guides from the Texas State Law Library

The Texas State Law Library reference librarians have compiled legal research guides for specific areas of the law. These guides contain resources that can help you research a legal issue. The American Association of Law Libraries has a guide for Non-Lawyers on How to Research a Legal Problem. If you have any questions, please contact us at (512) 463-1722 or at


The information provided on this page has been prepared for general information purposes only and should not be construed as, nor substituted for, legal advice. It is strongly recommended that you contact an attorney for advice specific to your fact situation. Your local bar association or the State Bar of Texas Lawyer Referral Information Service (1-800-252-9690) can assist you with locating an attorney.

Some of the electronic resources we refer to in this guide may be in PDF format. Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view PDFs.

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