There are of course two answers to whether a participant can record a Zoom meeting without permission. The first is from a technical viewpoint and the second is a question of legality. In both regards, I believe the answer is no.
A participant cannot record a meeting within Zoom without first getting permission from the Host. As a participant, clicking on the Record button will display the message, 'Please ask the Host to give you permission to record.' The Host can grant permission to any participant from within the meeting.
As a participant, if you are logged into Zoom on a computer, when you click the record button, you receive a message saying you need to ask the Host’s permission first’.
As the Host, to allow a participant to record a meeting, simply click on Participants, and in the participants’ window, click on 'More' next to the participant’s name and choose ‘Allow To Record.’
The Participant can then click the Record button in the same way the Host can. You will see a notification in the top, left corner of the window acknowledging that the recording has started. For free account holders the recording will be saved locally, once the meeting has ended. If you’re logged in using one of Zoom’s paid plans, you also have the option to save the recording to Zoom’s cloud storage.
Locally saved recording can be found in a folder called, Zoom, in your Documents folder.
The 'Alternative Host' Option
If you use one of Zoom’s paid plans, then, as the host, you can select another participant of the meeting to be ‘an alternative host.’ The Alternative Host has permission to record the meeting on behalf of the Host. However, to set this up, the Alternative Host must be another paid member on the same account as the Host. So there’s very little flexibility there.
Of course, nothing is stopping you from using a 3rd Party screen recorder to record the events unfolding on your screen. I'm not a lawyer but, if you take this option without first getting consent from the other participants, at best it’s highly unethical, and at worst, it might be illegal.
If you record a meeting without first getting consent from the other participants, at best it’s highly unethical, and at worst, it might be illegal.
My advice is always to be honest and tell the host and other participants you would like to record the meeting.