Legalities Of Audio Surveillance

Electronic surveillance is a common method used by Private Investigators to collect intelligence about a subject of interest. Electronic devises used by Private Investigators may include video, audio, tracing equipment or any other detectors that allow the Investigator to monitor the subject’s communication or activities without his or her knowledge. The legality of electronic surveillance depends on the specific application; who is being recorded and how he or she is being recorded. Interception of any private communication is covered under the Criminal Code. Section 184 of the Code states that an offence of willful interception is punishable by up to five years of imprisonment. 

The Code specifically exempts the interception of a private communication as long as “one of the parties” to the communication agrees to its interception. The phrase “one of the parties” includes anyone involved in originating the communication or anyone intended to receive the communication.

Section 184(1) Of The Criminal Code States:

184(1) Everyone who, by means of any electro-magnetic, acoustic, mechanical or other device, willfully intercepts a private communication is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to

(a) a person who has the consent to intercept, express or implied, of the originator of the private communication or of the person intended by the originator thereof to receive it.

Also Section 183.1 of the Criminal Code states:

183.1 Where a private communication is originated by more than one person or is intended by the originator thereof to be received by more than one person, a consent to the interception thereof by any one of those persons is sufficient consent for the purposes of any provision of this Part.

Under the Criminal Code, a “private communication” means:

Any oral communication or any telecommunication that is made by an originator who is in Canada or is intended by the originator to be received by a person who is in Canada, and that it is made under circumstances in which it is reasonable for the originator to expect that it will not be intercepted by any person other than the person intended by the originator to receive it, and includes any radio-based telephone communication that is treated electronically or otherwise for the purpose of preventing intelligible reception by any person other than the person intended by the originator to receive it.


The above or any other information on this site is based on opinions and interpretation of the author and is for general information purposes only. This is NOT legal advice. Absolutely do NOT rely on this or any other information on this site without verifying it with your Lawyer.