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Phone Recording Laws

Telephone Recording Law

Legal Aspects of Recording Telephone Conversations: A Practical Guide 


The purpose of this guide is a research of different state laws regarding recording telephone conversation. The guide addresses legal issues of taping in the US, UK, Australia, and Canada.

In the US there are both federal and state statutes governing the use of electronic recording equipment. The unlawful use of such equipment can give rise not only to a civil suit by the "injured" party, but also criminal prosecution. Although most of the statutes address wiretapping and eavesdropping - listening in on conversations of others without their knowledge - they usually apply to electronic recording of any conversations, including telephone calls.

Why Record Telephone Calls?

There can be a plenty of reasons why a company may need to record telephone conversations. For example:

Agent Training: It is often helpful to have the person answering your telephone calls hear their own voice and listen to how callers hear them. This will help them improve their call etiquette.

Quality Assurance: Call handling can be monitored on a monthly or bi-monthly basis to see where improvements are needed.

Quality Control: Call confirmation and "he said/she said" disputes.

Security/Liability: A recording of a conversation can be priceless if your business were to ever end up in court. Being accountable to your clients can help your business earn the respect of your customers.

A large number of organizations undertake monitoring of call. As suggested above, the purpose of this is to enable the company managers to gather information about the way in which the customer service representatives are "handling" the customer ("Quality Control"). This is then used as an assessment of the customer service representative's performance as part of the ongoing education and training of the customer service representative. The monitoring can be done by means of "double jacking" at the point where the customer service representative is sitting or alternatively can be done at another point so that neither the customer nor the customer service representative knows that the monitoring is taking place. In either case, the customer is unaware that monitoring is taking place, which may be illegal in many states.


Generally, it is legal to record any conversation where all the parties to it consent (one party consent if all parties are in a state with corresponding law). The U.S. federal law only requires one-party consent to the recording of a telephone conversation, but explicitly does not protect the taping if it is done for a criminal or tortuous purpose. Many states have similar exceptions.

The following phrases may be used to request person's consent:

"For training purposes and your own security your call may be monitored and recorded."

"In order to ensure excellent customer service, your call may be monitored or recorded."

"Thank you for calling America Online. To insure the highest level of customer service, this call may be monitored and recorded."

"All Blue HealthLine calls are completely confidential. However, your call may be monitored and recorded to insure quality of service."

As we see here, the quotes (taken from real life telephone operators) reflect and disclose pretty honestly a purpose of recording a call.


  1. EU Telecommunications Data Protection Directive
  2. Infowar.com's Law Section: Computer Privacy Community http://www.infowar.com/iwftp/cpd/CPD-Library/, http://www.infowar.com/


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