Countries around the world have their own set of rules when it comes to honouring the rights of their callers. Today almost all businesses make cold calls and service calls to reach out to their prospects and existing customers. And nine out of ten times, businesses record these calls for training and quality purposes. Irrespective of your country, you must know the laws that govern the recording of calls to avoid lawsuits and penalties, resulting in reputational and financial losses. In this post, we will go through the call recording laws of some of the major countries in this world.
It is common knowledge that the laws in the US are usually pretty stringent. This is also applicable to call recording. Call recording in the United States is governed by the following federal law:
U.S. federal law requires at least one party taking part in the call to be notified about the recording. In other words, it is illegal for businesses to record a call without notification. However, there are slight variations to this law when it comes to different states.
The U.S Federal Communication Commission (FCC) accepts notification of call recordings in the following means:
- Verbal notification before the recording starts This is the most common technique used today. You would have often heard the phrase – “This call may be monitored for training and quality control purposes” before a call starts with customer care. That’s the best example of verbal notification.
- Written or verbal notification can be obtained prior to the call from all parties involved in the call.
- An audible beep tone at regular intervals during the call.
When it comes to different stats, call recording laws are mainly governed by two types of consent: one-party consent and two-party consent.
Two Party Consent
In this, both parties should know that the call is being recorded and both have to consent to the recording. These are the states that follow two-party consent –
- Hawaii (requires two-party consent if the recording device is installed)
- Illinois (listening to, transmitting, or recording non-electronic conversion requires two-party consent)
- New Hampshire
One Party Consent
Here, either of the two parties on the call should know that the call is being recorded and they must also consent to the recording. These are the states that follow one-party consent –
- District of Columbia
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
- Wisconsin (To use the recordings in the court then two-party consent is required)
In Canada, organizations that record calls must comply with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). To comply with PIPEDA, they must adhere to the following rules while recording calls –
- The receiver must be informed that the call is being recorded at the beginning of the call. This can either be done through an automated recording or verbally by a customer care representative.
- The organization should not just state that the call will be recorded and used for quality assurance, especially if the call recording will be used for any other purposes. The representative must clearly state the purpose of the recording.
- The organizations must also be prepared if the individual objects to the call recording. Then the organization must provide them with a meaningful alternative like a call without recording, visiting the outlet, or writing a letter.
For individuals, they may record the call as long as they are one of the participants on the call. This recording can also be used as evidence in court. However, it’s illegal to record a conversation if the recording party is not participating in the conversation.
In England, Scotland, and Wales, call recording is governed by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (“RIPA”). Under RIPA, it is illegal to intercept calls by a third party, but there is an exception for government agencies.
In the United Kingdom, single-party consent is followed. A recording made by one person on a call without notifying others on the call is not prohibited, provided the recording is used only for personal use. Recording the call without notification is prohibited if some of the content of the communication is made available to a third party.
Businesses in the UK can record a call with the knowledge of their employees, but without notifying the other party if:
- To provide any proof of business transaction
- Ensure that the quality standard is being followed or to know if the targets are being achieved.
- In order to detect or prevent any type of offence or crime.
- To secure the operations related to the telecommunication system.
- To ensure that if the business complies with the regulatory procedure.
- In order to protect the National security.
- To investigate the unauthorized use of telecommunication systems.
In other words, businesses can record and monitor phone calls without consent if it is related to their operations, but such recording must be in accordance with the codes and laws of data protection, like the Human Rights Act 1998, Data protection regulation, and RIPA.
In Germany, it is mandatory to have two-party consent while recording a call. Recording a call without consent is a criminal offence as per Section 201 of the German Criminal Code. In case, if the authorities have to tap a call, they would be required to get consent from a judge. Private citizens are allowed to record the conversation without two-part consent if it’s for self-defence according to Section 32 of the German Criminal Call, or for necessity under Section 34 of the German Criminal Code.
France is also a two-party consent country. It prohibits the recording of a conversation without getting consent from all the parties involved. According to Article 226-1 of France’s Penal Code, recording and transmitting calls without consent is a violation of privacy. France, being part of the European Union, follows the General Data Protection Regulatory (GDPR), which regulates the control of processing data of EU citizens.
Companies can monitor and record their employees’ incoming and outgoing calls in the workplace, after complying with the following requirements:
- The purpose of the recording must be for employee training and performance improvement in service quality.
- The calls must only be recorded periodically and not permanently.
- The recordings can only be retained for a maximum of 6 months.
In Spain, businesses planning to record calls must inform the customers that the call is being recorded and get their consent before starting the recording. The laws pertaining to call recording are regulated by the Organic Law of Data Protection (LOPD) and the Law of Information Society Service and Electronic Commerce (LSSI). Spain is also a two-party consent state.
However, there are certain circumstances where the company can record calls without the consent of the customer. For instance, if the recording is going to be used for security purposes or to investigate an incident, it can be done without consent. The law also states that the recorded calls must be stored securely and not be shared with any third parties without user consent.
The Netherlands is a one-party consent country. According to the Criminal Code of the Netherlands, recording a call is legal. And according to section 139a of the Criminal Code, you are allowed to record a call as long as you are part of the conversation. You could also instruct someone to record the conversation that you are a part of.
Recordings can only be used for personal use. You could also record to collect evidence of potential threats or criminal offences. However, these are solely recorded to be taken to court for legal proceedings.
In Belgium, it is not illegal to record a conversation without getting consent from the other participants of the call as long as you are also part of the conversation. However, under the Crimes Act, it is illegal to record a conversation without participating in it. One would have to get consent from all the parties involved in the conversation to record it without being a part of the conversation.
Sweden is a one-party consent country. According to Swedish Penal Code, it is legal for someone to record a conversation if they are an active participant in the conversation or if they have obtained authorization to record the call. It is illegal to record a private conversation without being a part of the conversation. As far as data protection is concerned, Sweden is a part of the EU. This means it complies with GDPR to keep your data secure. Lastly, the recordings are admissible as evidence in the court even if it is obtained illegally.
In Norway, according to Section 205 of the Norwegian Penal Code, recording negotiations, calls, and conversations happening in a closed space is illegal if you are not a participant. This is considered a violation of the right to have private communication. Norway is a single-party content country, so you can record a conversation that you are a part of. However, it is strongly advisable to get the consent of other participants in the call that you are recording. In Norway, it is also illegal to publish a secret recording, as it violates section 267 of the Norwegian Penal Code. The GDPR policy keeps your personal data safe.
In UAE, it is strictly prohibited to record a conversation or a call without getting consent from all the parties involved in the call. Is it prohibited to use a recording in the court as evidence if the call was recorded without the consent of either party. The Phone Call Recording Act is regulated by the Anti-Cyber Crime and Federal Penal Code of UAE.
Recording a call is legal in Saudi Arabia as long as it is only used for personal use and the participant is also part of the recording. The call recordings can be used against someone in the court as legal evidence. But it is illegal to upload or publish these recordings on any public or social platform. Sharing audio is a violation of Saudi Arabia’s Anti-Cyber Crime Law and it might lead to a maximum fine of SR500,000.
Recording of calls is illegal in Qatar as per the Law Gazette No.4 of 2017. It is illegal to record anyone’s voice as it can be used for blackmailing, embezzlement, extortion, or bribery. The reason it’s illegal is also that the calls can be taken out of context, edited to distort actual facts and much more. The recording of a call cannot be used as evidence in court, no matter how crucial of evidence it is. Organizations like hospitals and banks that record the call for quality and training purposes are allowed to do so and must get the consent of the participant before recording. It is up to the caller to accept or reject it.
According to the 1999 Code of Criminal Procedures of Oman, conversations that are taking place in private shouldn’t be recorded. A telephone must not be tapped and the conversation should not be recorded without the permission of a public prosecutor. In Oman, you might record a call after getting consent from all parties. However, it can be used only for personal purposes.
In Bahrain, call recording is regulated via Telecommunication Law of 2002, and the Personal Data Protection Law (PDPL) of 2018. You need to take the consent of all parties involved and be a participant in the conversation to record the call.
Call recording in Australia is regulated by the Telecommunications Act of 1979. According to it, it is prohibited to intercept a phone call and illegal to record a conversation without the knowledge of the participants. These rules can be exempted in certain situations where a warrant is required. Organizations that record or monitor the call must inform their customers about the recording and get their consent before beginning the conversation. The other party can either cut the call or request a secure line. In the state of Queensland, recording a conversation by a participant in the call is legal.
According to the Crimes Act 1961, intercepting a private call by using interception devices is prohibited. But New Zealand is a single-party consent country, so one can record a call without the knowledge of other participants in the call legally. These recordings do fall under the purview of the Privacy Act. However, recordings related to personal matters and not used publicly don’t fall under this. Even though it is unfair, it is legal to record calls without the participant being aware of it, provided it is in the public interest and it outweighs your confidentiality interest.
Malaysia is a two-party consent state. One must get consent from everyone in the call before recording a conversation. Also, the recording can be used only for personal use. According to the Communication and Multimedia Act 1998, no one cannot intercept any form of communication unless they have the authority. And according to Security Offenses Act 2012 and Criminal Procedure Code 2012, authorities can intercept calls only if there is a security threat. According to Personal Data Protection Act 2010, companies must notify the customers that the call is being recorded. The law also states that the customers can ask the companies to file their data and provide the recording to them.
The Philippines is also a two-party consent state, so make sure to get consent from all the parties in the call to record the conversation, irrespective of whether you are a part of the conversation or not. The law is protected under the Philippines Anti-Wiretapping Law. The unlawful recording obtained would not be admissible in the court as evidence, but Section 3 allows law enforcement to obtain court orders and record a conversation without participants’ consent legally.
Singapore is a two-party consent state, where both parties must consent before recording a call. It also has PDPA, GDPR, and MiFID compliance and also complies with the conditions posted locally by SGX and MAS.
In Indonesia, it is required to get consent from all parties to record a call. Also, the call recording must not be shared in any public forums or social media. Doing so can result in jail and a fine. Use of illegal call recording in court as evidence is also punishable and can result in a jail term and fine. So if you are recording a call in Indonesia, make sure to get consent from all parties and keep the data safe.
The call recordings in Hong Kong are regulated by the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (PDPO). Hong Kong is a two-party consent state. So it is mandatory to get consent from all parties before recording a call. An illegal call recording may be used as evidence in court based on various factors.
In Thailand, a phone recording can be used as evidence in court even if the other party is unaware of the call recording. So one on one calls can be recorded without consent from all parties, but the party recording the conversation must be part of the call.
Further Reading: Importance of call recording systems in a call center
As the dependency on mobile communication is reaching new heights, governments around the world are charting down new guidelines to protect the privacy of their citizens. Remember, almost all countries have strict laws to protect and maintain the privacy of call data. So, it is recommended to always follow two-party consent at all times to show transparency and boost customer trust.
A business analyst turned writer who loves to paint away his free time. A staunch follower of the 'Workcation' concept, he loves to combine the art of writing with the enigma of traveling.