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Is It Legal to Record Calls?  A Global Guide for Sales Leaders

Maria Sundström
2/4/21 2:52 PM

Call recording tools are powerful for any business, enabling you to train and assess employees, assure quality of customer support, gather data for product development, improve marketing campaigns and resolve agent-client disputes, only to name a few of the benefits.

Due to local laws, rules and regulations companies cannot record any phone call they want to, but they must make sure they are legally allowed to tape the call.

You’ll need to know the laws in the jurisdiction both the caller and the receiver are from. Here are some best practices and a summary of laws for different countries to help keep you out of trouble.

Disclaimer: This article applies to business call recording only and does not include recording phone calls for private matters. 

Jump to any section:

Whether call recording is legal depends on the country 

Is call recording legal in Europe?

2.1 How to comply with GDPR when recording calls

2.2 Is call recording legal in the UK?

2.3 Is call recording legal in Germany

2.4 Is call recording legal in Finland?

2.5 Is call recording legal in France?

Is call recording legal in Asia?

3.1 Is call recording legal in India?
3.2 Is call recording legal in Australia?

Is call recording legal in the United States and Canada?

4.1 Is call recording legal in the United States?

4.2 Is call recording legal in Canada?

Is call recording legal in Africa?

Whether call recording is legal depends on the country 

What makes call recording regulations so complex is that the laws differ between countries and states and depends upon the grounds for recording the calls. For companies operating internationally it's even trickier as you then need to abide by the laws of both the caller and the callee. To play it safe it might make sense to get the consent of all parties before pressing the record button.

Before you start recording your customer calls you need to know the laws for that specific country. The most important thing is the regulations about consent. Consent is the permission to record the call that the other person gives, or chooses not to give to you. To make it simple consent can be divided into two parts:

  • One-party consent - or single-party consent means that at least one person on the recorded call agrees to be recorded. What this means is that you can choose to record any call that you are on. If the call is being recorded by a third party who’s not themselves speaking on the call, they must get consent from at least one party who speaks on the call. 
  • Two-party consent - should maybe rather be called “all-party consent'' as in this case you’ll need consent from anyone who speaks in the call. 

To simplify things, when companies have a valid business reason for recording a call, recording the audio is generally acceptable, but employees in a one-party state must be notified that the call may be recorded. In a two-party state, both the employee and the customers must be notified that the call is being recorded.

Countries also have other laws and regulations, such as GDPR in the EU, so make sure you check the specific rules, laws and regulations for the country before you start recording. Only having consent, be it one-party consent or two-party consent is not enough as there might be rules regarding the objective for the recording, as well as rules regarding how long you can store the call recordings.

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2. Is call recording legal in Europe?

Is call recording legal in Europe? A simple question, but I’m afraid the answer is not as simple. There are differences between countries within Europe and to make it even more complex  the European Union has introduced some new regulations, laws, and guidelines with the introduction of GDPR. This means that some countries in Europe fall under EUs GDPR legislation, while the European countries that are not part of the EU might have totally different rules. Countries within the EU might also have local rules that are even stricter than what is determined under the GDPR. 

Below you’ll find an overview of how GDPR influences call recording as well as a list of countries with specific regulations. 

2.1 How to comply with GDPR when recording calls

Prior to GDPR, companies could press the recording button after having informed the other party that the call will be recorded and it was assumed that people who do not agree to being recorded, would simply hang up. Very easy from the perspective of the recording party, but maybe not so nice from the perspective of the one being recorded.

Since the introduction of GDPR things have changed and now you must get the consent of the other party (follow the two-party consent principle), give a clear and valid explanation as to why the call is being recorded and make sure your processes are secure and GDPR compliant.

According to GDPR you cannot record calls just for the fun of it and in addition to having the consent of the person being recorded the reason for recording must be one of the following:

  • The call recording is necessary to fulfil a contract or a legal obligation.
  • The call recording is necessary to protect the vital interests of one or more participants on the call.
  • The call recording is in the public interest or the exercise of official authority.
  • The call recording is in the legitimate interests of the recorder or a third party.

The aim of the GDPR call recording rules is to consolidate the different regulations, laws, and guidelines across the European Union and give EU citizens more control over what information businesses collect and store about them.

Here is a brief checklist to make sure you are GDPR compliant when recording calls:

  1. Notify the customers when recording a call.
  2. Make sure you have a legal reason for recording the call.
  3. Store your call recordings securely.
  4. Only store data for the length of time it is required to fulfil the purpose for which the data were collected. 
  5. Make sure your data subjects, that is your clients, have the right to access their personal data, meaning recordings of telephone calls. 
  6. Make sure you have a process in place for deleting content if data subjects want their data to be deleted.  

2.2 Is call recording legal in the UK?

Companies that wish to record phone calls in the UK need an approved legal basis to do so, as well as permission from their employees, but not necessarily the other party. This means that one-party consent is enough provided that certain conditions are met, such as the following:

  • Record evidence that a business transaction has taken place.
  • Ensure that the company complies with regulations
  • To prevent and detect criminal activity

See that quality standards are being met, which means call recording for training purposes are a valid reason. It is noteworthy that the financial industry in the UK are obliged to record all calls relating to client orders and transactions in the equity, bond and derivatives markets.

2.3 Is call recording legal in Germany?

Germany is a two-party consent state, meaning companies always need the permission to record a call from everyone participating. To record calls in Germany you also need to follow the GDPR restrictions of the European Union. Telephone recording without the consent of all the parties is a criminal offense in Germany. In addition, Germany requires that VOIP users have a German address in order to be allowed to use a German number.

2.4 Is call recording legal in Finland?

Companies that wish to record phone calls in Finland need an approved legal basis to do so. The reasons for recording the calls are the ones listed under the GDPR section; a contract or a legal obligation, the call recording is necessary to protect the vital interests of one or more participants on the call, the call recording is in the public interest or the exercise of official authority, the call recording is in the legitimate interests of the recorder or a third party. In addition you need the consent of all the parties on the call which means that Finland follows a two-party consent strategy.

From a business perspective, this means that call recordings can be collected and stored if there is a customer relationship between the parties. However consent from the client is needed, which can be done either on the phone or in a formal contract between the parties, such as for example when signing an order confirmation or another type of agreement. Just informing people that you are recording calls on for example your website, is not enough as you cannot trust people to read your website and be aware of the recording taking place. 

2.5 Is call recording legal in France?

Companies in France, except those who collect sensitive personal data,  can temporarily record their employees’ incoming and outgoing calls in the workplace but they must comply with a number of requirements.

  • The purpose of recording the call must be either employee training or assessment or to improve the quality of the service;
  • The recording is only periodic, meaning it doesn’t happen constantly;
  • The recordings are deleted within 6 months

Is call recording legal in Asia?

Please check the specific laws and regulations for each country to determine whether call recording is legal in a specific Asian country. There are currently bigg differences between the countries.

3.1 Is call recording legal in India?

The legislation regarding the ability to legally record telephone calls in India is not clear, and it is not clearly stated whether only one-party or two-party consent is needed. There is no law which makes recording a call by an individual on their device illegal. Our understanding is however that call recording is not illegal in India - and operates on the basis of single-party consent and  call recording use in for example court proceedings has been granted.

In addition the Indian Telegraph Act, 1883, which regulates wired and wireless telegraphy, telephones, radio communications, and digital data communications, allows employers to establish, maintain, and all forms of wired and wireless connections. 

3.2 Is call recording legal in Australia?

Australia is a two-party consent state, meaning companies always need the permission to record the call from everyone speaking on the call. The company using call recording technology must tell you at the beginning of the conversation that the conversation will be recorded so that you have the choice to either end the call, or ask to be transferred to a line where you can speak without being recorded.

The company also need a valid reason to record the call, such as for example:

  • To protect a person's intent in dealings with the organization
  • Record evidence that a business transaction has taken place, in the event of a dispute
  • To improve customer service, which means it can be used for training purposes

It is noteworthy that there are differences between the states in Australia.

Is call recording legal in the United States and Canada?

4.1 Is call recording legal in the United States?

Call recording is generally legal at federal level in the United States, but there are differences between the individual states. Federal law allows call recording on a single-consent basis, meaning it is enough that one party, for example your sales representatives, gives consent, but the state laws in some states require two-party consent.

This means that a company that wants to record calls within all 50 states will require two-party consent in some states while single-party consent is enough in others. Even if your company resides in a single-party consent state, you might make calls to two-party consent states and hence need to notify both parties before recording the calls.

The following states require two-party consent: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington.

In the United States you can get consent to record the call in writing before the recording takes place or on the call before the recording takes place.

4.2 Is call recording legal in Canada?

Companies in Canada need to abide by the two-party consent rule. In Canada companies must comply with PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) when recording calls, which means the following:

  • The customers must be notified when recording a call, in the beginning of the call. This can be done by the sales representative or by an automatic recording.
  • The customers must be notified of why the call is being recorded. 
  • The call can only be used for the purpose it was recorded for.

Is call recording legal in Africa?

5.1 Is call recording legal in South Africa?

South Africa is a single-party consent state, meaning companies need the permission to record a call from one participant of the call, meaning it is enough if the sales representative or the client support representative want to record the call. There are also other situations in which call recording is legal:

  • You have the written consent of one of the parties being recorded,
  • The recording is in connection with the carrying out business activities (If this is the case, call recording is regulated by more specific regulations). 

Please check the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act for more information. It is worth remembering that call recording laws do not only apply to recording phone calls, it also applies to recording video conferences and in person meetings. 

It could be argued that it is good practice to notify your callers where they are being recorded just to be sure –  it's always better to ask for consent. Rather be safe than sorry.

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