A Basic Primer on Hosted VoIP System Recording Laws

April 5, 2016

hosted VoIPOne of the most valuable and important features of a hosted VoIP system, is that it allows businesses to record calls for various purposes, such as training, quality assurance, dispute resolution, security, marketing, etc., and easily retrieve them from any location via a simple web interface. This recording functionality can be used in a call center environment, or in conventional day-to-day business communication (i.e. it is just as useful for businesses with call centers as those without call centers).

However, it is vital for businesses to ensure that any and all call recording by their hosted VoIP system is done in compliance with prevailing privacy laws. Otherwise, they can be subject to complaints, fines and legal action. And even if the issue is resolved without major escalation, the damaged reputation can be significant and lasting.

Essentially, the critical factor that puts businesses on the right and safe side of the law comes down to consent. That is, it is necessary to ensure that all callers -- regardless of whether they are customers, suppliers, partners, or any other party -- are aware that their call will be recorded, and that the recording may be used for specified purposes.  

According to the FCC – which has developed regulations for call recording that are available on its website – only one party needs to give consent. However, there are currently 12 such states that demand all-party consent: California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington.

Furthermore, the party making the recording must be involved in the conversation. For example, a business may wish to allow a customer and a vendor to use its hosted VoIP conference calling system, but not actually participate in the discussion (i.e. use of the conference calling system is being done as a favor to one or both parties). However, if the call is being recorded, then this is not allowed. The business has to be on the call, or the recording functionality must be disabled.    

The good news for businesses is that, unlike other kinds of consent that must be provided in writing – such as for certain types of contracts, orders and agreements – consent for call recording can be given verbally. Typically, this is done through a pre-recorded system message that informs all parties that the call is being recorded, and for what purposes the information may be used (again: security, training, etc).   

Typically, callers will give their consent (by staying on the line), simply because it is in their interest to do so. However, occasionally some callers may object to being recorded. In such cases, the business can either shut off the recording feature, or they can terminate the call and have it in another context (e.g. face to face).

Also, it is very important for businesses to use recordings only for purposes stated in the disclaimer. For example if a business does not mention that recordings may be used for marketing purposes, then they cannot use them in that way.   

Finally, keep in mind that consent cannot be assumed retroactively. For example, if on January 1 a business’s disclaimer language says that calls may be recorded for “training or security purposes”, and then on June 1 changes the disclaimer language to “training, security or marketing purposes”, then calls recorded between January 1 and June 1 cannot be used for marketing purposes. For this reason, businesses should keep accurate and organized records for any changes they make to their disclaimer language.

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To learn more about safely using your hosted VoIP system and maximizing your usage, functionality, features and ROI, contact Votacall today. Your consultation with us is free. As an added bonus, download our FREE eBook that tackles some of the biggest myths about hosted VoIP phone systems:

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