Any wire, oral or electronic communication (including cellular phone calls) can lawfully be recorded by a person who is a party to the communication, or when one of the parties has consented to the recording, so long as no criminal or tortious purpose exists. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 803-42. Divulging any private message or photographic image by telephone, telegraph, letter, electronic transmission, without the consent of either the sender or the receiver, is a misdemeanor if the accused knows that the message was unlawfully intercepted. Unlawful interceptions or disclosures of private communications are punishable as felonies. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 803-42.

The one-party consent rule does not apply, however, to the installation of a recording device in a "private place" that will amplify or broadcast conversations outside that private place. All parties who have a reasonable expectation of privacy in that place must consent to the installation of a recording device. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 711-1111.

Civil penalties for unlawful interception or disclosure include the greater of actual damages or any profits made by the violator, $100 for each day of violation, or $10,000, along with punitive damages, attorney fees and litigation costs. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 803-48. A hotel room has been found by the Hawaii Supreme Court to be a private place where a recording device cannot legally be installed without the consent of the room's occupants. Hawaii v. Lo, 675 P.2d 754 (Haw. 1983).

It is a felony to install or use a surveillance device in a private place to view a person in a "stage of undress or sexual activity" without the person's consent. If the person is not in such a stage, it is a misdemeanor. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 711-1111. It is also a misdemeanor to possess materials obtained through illegal surveillance. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 711-1110.9.


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