Is It Legal To Record Calls With Smartphone Apps?

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Is It Legal To Record Calls With Smartphone Apps?

September 21, 2016

Anyone who's been even casually following the call recording industry for more than a couple weeks knows that call recording is a powerful tool. It has uses in training employees, in ensuring the best in customer service, and even protecting against lawsuits. Some laws actually require some industries to engage in call recording. For everyone else, call recording has a minefield of laws around it, and the rise of smartphones hasn't made the picture much clearer. So much so, in fact, that some are specifically asking if it's legal to record calls on a smartphone using a smartphone app.

The base logic that generally goes into this question is sound enough: if it's illegal to use this smartphone app, then how come they let me download it? This is reasonable enough to ask; if it's illegal to own a certain firearm in your area, you'd never be able to buy one, and the same goes for just about any other item. Yet the call recording tool can be readily downloaded, and for one key reason: it's not illegal everywhere.

The issue only gets more complex when leaving the United States. In Australia, the Telecommunications Interception and Access Act 1979, known as the TIA, has some points to consider as well, particularly since it was written well before apps even existed. This was recently challenged in a case known as Furnari v Ziegert, in which one party demanded the removal of a YouTube clip that featured a recording of a call regarding the sale of a dog. The call turned heated, thus making worthwhile YouTube fodder, but it was also alleged that this violated Section 7 (1) of the TIA, since both parties did not consent to the recording. With the judge in the case, at last report, finding against violation—considering points like how the recording was made and at what point in the overall system the call has reached—it almost seems like a call recording app in Australia is legit.

I hasten to add that I am not a lawyer, and I am even less an Australian lawyer, so it would be a good idea to speak to an actual lawyer in an individual state, province, or country as is applicable. Call recording is a powerful tool, one with much potential for misuse, and so laws are set up to regulate it. It's already something of a mess in the United States thanks to the conflict of one-party and two-party consent state laws, and going abroad, it's only worse.

So before getting that smartphone app, it's a good idea to check into the laws in your area to determine just how useful it can be. Call recording has a lot of uses, but isn't always usable everywhere.

Edited by Alicia Young

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