Recording In-Person or Phone Conversations
Illegally recording in-person or phone conversations without the owner’s consent violates citizens’ right to privacy, as guaranteed by the Constitution. Therefore, Egyptian law imposes a penalty of up to one-year imprisonment for those who pry, record, or transmit such conversations through devices equipped for this purpose.
The basis for this is the right to confidentiality during private conversations, thus, any evidence obtained through illegitimate means or without judicial permission is inadmissible, except in cases of verbal harassment recorded on the victim’s phone. which does not need prior judicial permission, since this would not constitute a violation of privacy.
To address new technological crimes, Law No. 10 of 2003 regulates the telecom sector and penalizes deliberate harassment of others through the misuse of communication equipment. Thus, recording conversations is the only means of proving these types of crimes.
Herein we refer to one of the cases where an individual was accused of verbally harassing and slandering the claimant, who had recorded evidence of the harassment on their phone. The initial court sentence was imprisonment for six months and granted compensation for the victim.
However, the verdict was challenged on the grounds that the victim recorded the conversation without judicial permission. The Court of Appeal subsequently acquitted the defendant. The ruling was challenged again before the Court of Cassation, where it was argued that the law was misapplied since recording is the only way to prove such a crime.
The Court of Cassation overturned the challenged verdict and accepted the appellant’s request to nullify the challenged ruling acquitting the respondent of the crime of insult and slander by phone and rejecting her civil lawsuit. The court explained that evidence submitted from a recorded conversation on the appellant’s phone is admissible without prior approval from the concerned authority. This is because phone calls that constitute a crime or instigate a crime do not fall under the protection of the right to privacy guaranteed in the Constitution.
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