Traversing the Legal Minefield of Call Recording

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Traversing the Legal Minefield of Call Recording

October 20, 2016

Recording telephone calls for business purposes seems like it should be a straightforward process. It’s useful, particularly for contact centers and sales organizations for evaluating quality and performance. It helps weed out “he said, she said” scenarios. It’s easier than ever thanks to technology, particularly for organizations that use hosted solutions and can store the calls off-site. Today, there are even a variety of smartphone apps that can accomplish it with little trouble. Enterprise-ready call recording solutions take up a small footprint on employee desktops, they’re flexible and customizable, and they include analytics technology so companies can use the recordings to spot trends.

So why is call recording still the subject of so many lawsuits? Matthew Balcomb, CEO of CallCabinet Southern Africa writing for the Web site Gadget, observed that many people simply don’t like to be recorded, even for routine conversations. While Balcomb is addressing South African law, his observation that negotiating the minefield that is the patchwork of call recording laws applies to many other nations, including the United States.

“There’s no single law governing the recording of calls in a call center environment,” he wrote. “Instead the act of determining whether you may record and how to do it in such a way that your business remains compliant, protects the customer’s privacy, and stays squarely within the bounds of the law, is a quest of Tolkien-like proportions.”

In the United States, federal law regarding wiretapping – rules maintained by the FBI and not the FCC -- remains the baseline of requirements for call recording. Federal law follows the rule of one-party consent, which means that at least one party taking part in the call must be notified of the recording.

In addition, each of the 50 states has their own rules and regulations, some of which are considerably more stringent than federal law. To date, 12 states have regulations that are more stringent than federal law, generally requiring that both parties at least be notified of the act of recording: California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington.

Since many businesses, even small businesses, may not always be aware of what state they’re calling into (or receiving calls from), companies are advised to conduct their call recording in a manner that would not get them into legal trouble with even the most stringent state rules (generally accepted as California). Since individuals can hardly keep a mental tally of all the rules and regulations that might apply when it comes to call recording, it’s important that companies choose a call recording that can do it in an automated way. For companies using business voice over IP technology, call recording is often an easy add-on feature that can be enabled.

In addition to party notification, call recording may also be governed by rules requiring a minimum baseline of security when it comes to storing calls. (Recorded calls often contain sensitive customer information.) Rather than risking a do-it-yourself approach, look for a call recording solution that offers compliance features both for two-party notification and secure storage of recorded calls. Reliable solutions providers will be able to offer an easy approach to recording, storing and securing calls as well as using them for quality management. 

Edited by Alicia Young

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