Call Recording Laws & Compliance Guide
Call recording laws can be complex, but compliance doesn't have to be. Learn what you need to know about call recording compliance, including differences in call recording laws by state and country, and keep your business or call center compliant.
International Call Recording Laws & Compliance in 2021
It’s the message we’ve all heard before being connected with a call center agent: This call may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance and training purposes. While a pretty insignificant message to the customers on the receiving end, this statement serves a business purpose in more ways than just quality assurance and training - it helps businesses stay compliant and mitigate risk when recording phone calls in the jurisdictions they operate in!
Call recording is a powerful tool offered by call recording service providers. Businesses use this software to refine efficiencies, assess agent performance, and improve risk management. It’s becoming a necessity for brands with sales and support centers. Sixty-four percent of companies are deploying call recording software to efficiently respond to legal discovery requests and compliance audits.
As this software becomes more essential, what are the rules and legality surrounding call recording? What if I’m making or receiving calls from customers located outside of the state or country I’m based in - which legislation do I follow? In this article, we’ll take a deep look at the international call recording laws across several countries, how to record phone conversations legally, and the best practices to implement across your entire call center.
Disclaimer: The information below is for informational purposes only and not legal advice.
Basic Overview of Phone Call Recording Laws and Regulation
It’s important for call center personnel to recognize and follow the call recording regulations that accompany their operative and targeted jurisdictions. Understanding the legality and compliance requirements of recording a telephone conversation can help safeguard your business and protect the data and privacy of your customers and clients.
As with most legislation, call recording laws can be rather complex and difficult to dissect. As technology advances and communication capabilities are more refined, provisions to laws are more necessary to keep up with the changing environment. Countries with large governing bodies, like the US, can be challenging to follow the evolving legislation - both on a Federal and State level.
But there is a simple rule for figuring out your country or state's call recording compliance laws, once you understand one-party consent, two-party consent, and all-party or multi-party consent. Most countries, including the US, follow a similar position themselves as a one, two, or all-party consent nation for call recording compliance.
- One-Party Consent: At a minimum, one active party in the conversation must be informed of the recording. The business can be that party.
- Two-Party Consent: Both parties on the call must be made aware that the conversation is being recorded.
- All-Party (or Multi-Party): Everyone active in the conversation must be notified of the call being recorded.
Most countries with call recording laws, including Australia, Japan, the UAE, UK, and the US, use a framework built on these terms. In other words, they position themselves as a one, two, or all-party consent nation, and then local governments may add additional regulation around call recording at their own discretion.
The United States Federal Government mandates a one-party consent process for recorded phone calls. However, individual states have their own governments and rules with their own enacted legislation. While Federal law is the supreme law of the land, fifteen states have established a two or all-party call recording system. So how do you know which one to use? We’ll show you soon!
What Are the Penalties Associated with Breaking Call Recording Compliance Laws?
If you record a phone call unlawfully, you could expose your business to the risk of criminal prosecution. In the US, anyone found in violation of call recording legislation could face incarceration or heavy fines. Breaking the law in other countries could result in similar or more severe penalties.
“A good solution for businesses is to simply have a taped message, 'this call may be recorded to ensure quality customer service,' disclosure.”
-- Ryan Reiffert | Attorney at The Law Offices of Ryan Reiffert PLLC
When in doubt of the rules around call recording, err on the side of caution by disclosing to everyone involved that the conversation will be recorded. State the intent or purpose for the recording and provide a way for the contact to give their consent, or find them an alternative solution.
What About Recording Calls Across State or Country Lines?
Recording calls over state and international lines adds an additional layer of complexity. Say you’re a Philadelphia-based business taking inbound calls from customers in Louisiana seeking account support. Philadelphia is located in a two-party state, whereas Louisiana is a one-party state. With interstate call recording, which consent rules do you follow?
“Federal and State laws vary on recording phone calls and conversations. It’s a complex matter to determine which jurisdiction legally has control in those cases involving recording devices or parties in multiple states. In order to be careful when applying the law, it’s best to follow the strictest applicable law when in doubt, or alternatively get the consent of at least one party to the conversation.”
-David Reischer, Esq. | Attorney & CEO of LegalAdvice.com
International (or inter-regional) call recording, while more challenging because you’re dealing with a government different from your own, does have its similarities to the laws of the US. Many countries have adopted the one, two, or all-party system as a way to protect the privacy, security, and data of their citizens. While similar positioning, this does not mean that all countries have the same definition of “consent.” You may be responsible for identifying their definition through counsel.
In Europe, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) enforces data protection and privacy rules for all member countries of the European Union. Understanding the laws for each country you do business with, as well as regulations in place set by higher authorities and organizations, can help keep your business compliant and in good standing.
Call Recording Laws by Country
Call recording laws vary by country. It’s important to know and understand the laws for the countries you operate in. Obtaining data from customers can be very tricky. As a general rule of thumb, make sure to obtain consent or permission from your callers prior to recording a phone call, even if the law doesn’t make it mandatory.
Below you will find a list of countries with an overview of their call recording regulations and some common questions (with answers) about call recording rules for businesses.
Australian Call Recording Laws
In most cases, businesses can record calls in Australia as long as all parties on the call have given consent. Setting up an automated message stating that this call will be recorded and monitored before the call is connected qualifies as consent, as the participant has time to disconnect the call if they do not wish to be recorded.
Is it legal to record phone calls without consent in Australia?
Not in every jurisdiction but several exceptions apply. Federal regulation doesn’t specify that both participants must give consent, but many local governing bodies have additional recording regulations on the books.
Rules for recording calls in Western Australia
Western Australia call recording rules specify that you must always inform the other party and get consent before recording a phone call. The same phone recording rules apply for New South Wales, Southern Australia, Tasmania, and the Australian Capital Territory.
The Invasion of Privacy Act 1971 says you cannot record a private conversation unless you are one of the parties in the conversation. So you can record calls you are participating in, but you cannot publish those recordings without consent from the other participants.
And for whatever reason, you cannot use a device that is physically attached to the phone to record the calls.
Like Queensland, you may record calls if you are a participant, but you cannot publish or share the recordings unless all parties have been informed and given consent.
And for whatever reason, you cannot use a device that is physically attached to the phone to record the calls.
Canadian Call Recording Laws
Under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), there has to be at least one person in the conversation to consent to the telephone recording. There are rules that organizations must follow:
- Inform the caller that the conversation is being recorded
- State the purpose of the recording
- Ask for their consent before proceeding
Alternative solutions must be offered if the caller objects to the recording.
Finland Call Recording Laws
A business or enterprise that records calls must inform its callers prior to the conversation and remain compliant with data protection legislation.
France Call Recording Laws
Companies operating within French jurisdictions can monitor their call center’s inbound and outbound calls but must comply with a few rules. Only periodic call recording sessions are permitted, and only for the purpose of employee training, performance review, or for improving the service quality. Companies may keep these recordings for up to six months.
German Call Recording Laws
Businesses with a German audience must obtain permission from both parties - or more when applicable - before recording a phone conversation, according to German Criminal Code, Sec. 201. Businesses must also provide the callers with an opt-out option if they object to the recording.
India Call Recording Laws
There is no law in place that makes recording a phone call illegal. However, a concern about the “right to privacy” persists. Because the “right to privacy” hasn’t been identified in the Constitution of India, the meaning or definition of it remains unclear. While there’s no safeguard for businesses partaking in call recording, clearly stating to callers that their conversation will be recorded can ensure transparent operations.
Ireland Call Recording Laws
Ireland joins several others as an “all-parties consent” country for call recording. By Irish law, companies are required to clearly state the intention of the recording, allowing participants to consent or object to the recorded conversation.
Italy Call Recording Laws
Remote monitoring is prohibited under Italy’s Article 4 of the Statue of Employees and Article 114 of the Privacy Code. More recently, it was announced that businesses could record their agent-customer interactions so long as conditions were being observed.
Japan Call Recording Laws
The laws are more complex within the Japanese jurisdiction. While a business can record customer calls, there’s no known safeguard if that business decides to publicize or share the recordings without given consent from the customers.
Singapore Call Recording Laws
Singapore allows both explicit consent when in writing, deeming it consent when the individual volunteers the information or data as covered in the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), which does not state the differentiating factors between personal and sensitive data.
While businesses do not need to disclose the specifics of collecting data, they are required to provide the reason and purpose behind collecting the data to the consenting party.
South Africa Call Recording Laws
The recording of communications in South Africa is controlled by the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act of 2002. Generally one should obtain consent before recording a conversation, however, there are exceptions including:
- You’re a party to the conversation
- You’ve obtained prior, written consent from at least one party
- The conversation relates to your business
Spain Call Recording Laws
There is no law that states you must make the other party aware of the conversation recording. This is the general rule, and comments divulged can be transferred to a third party or even published.
Sweden Call Recording Laws
At least one party in the call must be aware that the recording is being made.
UK Call Recording Laws
In the United Kingdom (England, Wales, and Scotland), a business can legally record a telephone conversation with a customer as long as certain conditions are met. From a high-level, if you plan to share the information you receive from the customers with a third-party group or make it public, such as a testimonial on the company’s website, then consent must be given.
If the feedback is only for internal use, a business doesn’t need to notify the customers of the recordings.
US Call Recording Laws
Companies doing business in the United States of America are subject to both Federal and State legislation. At least one party must be notified of the recording taking place under Federal jurisdiction, while some states require at least two or all parties to be notified and give their consent.
Below is a chart of one- and two- (or all) party states. Washington D.C. is a one-party district, while Puerto Rico mandates the consent of both or all parties in the conversation.
One-Party States: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Two-Party States: California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
Call Recording Compliance Tips for Call Centers
In addition to following the laws of the land, call recording etiquette should be maintained and well-rehearsed within your call center. Just like getting their problems resolved quickly, customers expect safety and security measures in place regarding their sensitive and private conversations from the brands they do business with.
If call recording has been enabled in your phone system, below are some best practices to follow so your customers know you have their best interest at heart, always.
Always Be Transparent
The last thing you want to do is upset your customers. So if you’re going to record your conversations with them, tell them directly with full transparency. Ensure your customers that you’re taking every precaution to protect their privacy and maximizing security for their sensitive data. Be upfront if you plan on sharing the recordings with a third-party, and clearly state the purpose of the recording as well as provide alternative solutions for those who do not wish to proceed.
Add Clear Messaging
How you state the messaging is everything when it comes to call recording. As a business, it’s your responsibility to make sure customers are informed that their calls are being recorded and how you plan on using them.
Adding messaging on your phone system’s IVR or auto-attendant can provide them a clear understanding of your intent and the passive/active consent capability so they may agree or object. You can customize this messaging to inform and divulge the business use regarding your customers’ recorded phone calls.
To get consent from your callers, there are two types you can add to your phone system: passive and active consent.
- Passive Consent. This consent is when the caller stays on the line after receiving the audio cue that the call is being recorded. Their willingness to remain on the line is their passive consent and without objection to the recording.
- Active Consent. Consent is received after the caller takes an affirmative action following an audio cue. This could be a verbal “yes” or “no” into the phone after being prompted, or by pressing “1 for yes,” “2 for no” on the keypad.
Understand Call Recording Storage Compliance
Call recordings in the US can be stored for 30, 60, 90, or 365-day increments to stay in compliance with regulatory requirements. Knowing your operative and home-based call recording storage rules can help save you from liability headaches.
Make It Easy for Callers to Opt-Out
Giving the callers the choice to opt-out of a recorded phone call is a good measure to follow. Some customers may not feel comfortable being recorded, and others may fear that their privacy is being compromised. Adding a call-recording-free line to your call center could help put those customers’ minds at ease. Using the active consent example above, you could redirect the line of those who select “2 for no” to agents assisting callers who objected to the recording.
Is Call Recording a ‘Press 1 for Yes, 2 for No’ for Your Business?
Call recording laws are forever changing as technology evolves. Understanding domestic and international legislation is of vital importance for any business conversing with customers regarding their questions, inquiries, and sensitive or personal data. Putting the proper research and protocols in place can help keep your brand in good standing with the law and those who keep your business moving.
Enabling call recording into your contact center requires software from a voice and contact center provider. It’s a tool that many businesses are using to measure their performance, track their data and analytics, and use that insight to improve their CSAT and overall call center experience. Are you interested in learning more about this feature?
AVOXI's voice and communication platform includes call recording software with unlimited storage and the ability to score calls and leave feedback notes on call recordings. Our mission includes helping businesses propel their operations to the next level, mitigate against potential liability, implement new training processes, avoid legal headaches, improve customer loyalty, create brand recognition, and reduce your business’s monthly recording costs. Choose from customizable storage options and have peace of mind knowing your call recordings are protected and comply with the highest industry standards.
David founded AVOXI in 2001 and leads a talented team around the world, cultivating a growing customer base through streamlined, feature-rich business communication software. A champion of visionary thinking and ideation, David and his team have helped launch numerous and successful CPaaS solutions for some of the world’s most recognizable brands.