The JIC, or Just In Case, is an iPhone case that can record any phone conversation with the press of a button. It comes equipped with a built-in microphone, a speaker for playback, and a microSD card for storing conversations. It’s specifically marketed as a discrete iPhone addition, even though it’s bulky and calls attention to itself with loud colors. People on the other end of a phone call, however, don't see those colorful case details or the obvious speaker on the back, so the JIC can easily be used to surreptitiously record conversations. While the case might be useful for journalists, spies, and anyone else in dire need of a stored conversation, it also could lead to illegal recordings in 12 states.
Federal law allows for "one-party consent," which essentially means that so long as the recorder of the call is also a participant in it, the recording is legal. The other people on the phone conversation do not need to agree or even know they’re being recorded for it to be considered legal. However, the 12 states that have amended that law turned it into an "all-party consent," which means all the call participants must agree to being recorded prior to the recording’s start. Those states include California, Illinois, Florida, and Michigan, among others. A full list can be seen here.
Err on the more conservative side
The natural question, of course, is which state's jurisdiction applies. If the caller is in New York, for example, which has a one-party consent law, but the person being called is in Washington, which requires all-party consent, there isn’t necessarily a clear default. Andy Sellars, a staff attorney and fellow at the Harvard Law School Cyberlaw Clinic, told The Verge that the case’s users should probably err on the more conservative side. Getting consent from all parties is always a safe bet.
For now, the $40 JIC cases are only part of an Indiegogo campaign and have an estimated delivery date of this upcoming May. The cases themselves are legal, but maybe think twice before pressing that record button.