Is it legal to record phone calls in Ontario? The rules are different for businesses and individuals. This post will take you through some of the guidelines set by PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) to help your business comply with Canadian laws regarding recording calls in your workplace. It also takes a look at Canada’s Privacy Act and what it says about recording private calls in Canada. At Network Telecom, we can provide a number of telecommunications products and services. If you’re part of a business that has a current telecom supplier, check out our free cost reduction report!
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Is it Legal to Record Phone Calls in Ontario for Businesses?
The simple answer is “yes.” However, you need to be aware of the rules and follow them. Recording customer telephone calls can be a tricky business because the last thing any business wants is to run into legal trouble with a potential or current customer. Because recording telephone calls can involve the collection of personal information, there are a number of rules and regulations in Canada set forth by PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) that companies must abide by. If your customers know that your business will respect their privacy they are more likely to do business with you.
What Is PIPEDA?
PIPEDA is a Canadian law relating to data privacy that was brought into action in the year 2000 in order to govern how the private sector collects, uses and discloses personal information during the course of personal business. There are a few regulations you must have set in place in order to fully comply with PIPEDA. Most of these may seem like common sense, but it’s very important to follow through on all of them. Here’s the current list of regulations you must follow through to comply with PIPEDA.
- Your recording must be done for a specified purpose
- The purposes for the recording must meet the reasonable person test
- You must inform the individual that the call may be recorded and make a reasonable effort to ensure that the individual understands the purposes for the recorded information and how it will be used
- Recording must only take place if you have the individual’s consent
- Any information collected must only be used for the purposes already specified to the individual
- Organizations must ensure they comply with all other provisions of PIPEDA with respect to matters such as safeguards, access, retention, and disposal
Things To Consider Before Recording Your Customer’s Phone Call
Before deciding whether or not you’d like to participate in recording your customer’s phone calls, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Rules Apply to Calls Initiated by Both You and Your Customer: The guidelines given by PIPEDA apply to both calls initiated by the customer and those initiated by your business
- Rules Apply to All Contracted Third Parties: If your business contracts out some or all of your phone calls to call centres, telemarketing, or any services similar to these, you must also ensure that these third parties that are acting on your behalf are also responsible to comply with PIPEDA as well
- Information Other Than the Content of the Call Can Be Gathered: Recording of phone calls can be used to gather more information than simply the content of the call. For example, a worker or customer’s tone of voice can be used in legal proceedings and can be used to infer information about those in the call such as ethnic background or age.
What Businesses Does PIPEDA Apply To?
PIPEDA applies to most businesses in Canada except for those located in Quebec, British Columbia, and Alberta. These provinces have their own private sector laws. But even in those provinces, PIPEDA still covers federally regulated industries such as transportation, telecommunications and banking.
The following video will give you a quick overview of PIPEDA and what you need to know about protecting your customers’ privacy.
When Is Consent NOT Required When Recording Customer Calls
Though these regulations are to be followed through on almost every case, there are some cases where consent is not necessary under PIPEDA. This would include cases such as:
- Debt collection
- Investigating potential fraud cases
- Other cases where knowing a call is being recorded could potentially damage an organization’s ability to obtain important information.
If you’re unsure whether or not consent would be necessary for your organization, be sure to contact a legal expert and ask for their advice before making any decisions.
What Steps Should You Follow In Order To Comply With PIPEDA When Recording a Call
In order to stay within the regulations of PIPEDA, there are steps for each call that you’re expected to follow through on to ensure you fully comply:
1. Inform Your Customer at the Beginning of the Call:
Ensure that the individual is informed that the conversation is being recorded at the beginning of the call. Some of the best ways to do this is to have an automated recording set up to inform the individual they’re being recorded
2. Tell Your Customer the Purpose of the Call:
The individual must be told about the purposes of the recording. The organization must be clear about the purposes; be specific and state all purposes for the recording. There are a number of ways you can inform the individual of the purposes for the recording – verbally, by pressing a number on the keypad (in the case of automated messages) or with clear messages on monthly statements (For example: If you have any questions about your bill please call 1-800-XXX-XXXX. Please note your call will be recorded for…). If the individual proceeds after learning that the conversation is going to be recorded then there is implied consent on their behalf
3. If There Is an Objection, Provide a Meaningful Alternative:
If the caller objects to the recording, the organization should provide the caller with meaningful alternatives. Some of these alternatives could include not taping the call; visiting a retail outlet; writing a letter; or, conducting the transaction over the internet
Where Can You Find Additional Information about Recording Calls for Businesses?
PIPEDA provides a handy guide for businesses and organizations on their website that explains your responsibilities under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. Click here to download your copy.
If you’re looking for any more additional information on PIPEDA and the laws regarding recording phone calls in Ontario you can contact the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada by clicking here.
Is It Legal To Record Phone Calls in Ontario for Individuals?
According to the Criminal Code of Canada, you can record a phone call as long as at least one person in the conversation is aware that the recording is taking place. This is known as the “one-party notification.” This means that the person doing the recording has to be taking part in the conversation. You cannot tape a conversation between two individuals, neither of which are aware that the taping is going on. The following is an excerpt from Section 183.1: of the Criminal Code of Canada: Part VI: Invasion of Privacy that deals with this point:
“Where a private communication is originated by more than one person or is intended by the originator thereof to be received by more than one person, a consent to the interception thereof by any one of those persons is sufficient consent for the purposes of any provision of this Part. [1993, c.40, s.2.]”
Do Both Parties in the “Private Communication” Need to Be in Canada?
According to the Criminal Code of Canada, the originator of the call and the receiver of the call need to be in Canada in order for this law to apply. Section 183 reads:
“means any oral communication, or any telecommunication, that is made by an originator who is in Canada or is intended by the originator to be received by a person who is in Canada and that is made under circumstances in which it is reasonable for the originator to expect that it will not be intercepted by any person other than the person intended by the originator to receive it, and includes any radio-based telephone communication that is treated electronically or otherwise for the purpose of preventing intelligible reception by any person other than the person intended by the originator to receive it;”
Things to Consider Before Recording a Private Conversation
Even though it is legal to record a phone conversation as long as one party in that conversation is aware of the recording, it is still advisable to consult a local attorney for legal counsel before you record any phone calls especially if you want to use the tapes for legal purposes. Voice recording or logging is best used for purposes such as:
- Dispute resolution
- Quality assurance
How Network Telecom Can Help You
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