Recording Phone Calls

by @edent | # # | 2 comments | Read ~329 times.

A few months ago I was contacted by dodgy timeshare merchants Club Lacosta. Being slightly disturbed by their weasely words and reputation for dishonesty, I recorded the call.

Listen to the call on iPadio.

I'll admit, it's not the most cutting edge piece of investigative journalism.  To create the recording, I placed the rep on hold, dialed iPadio, then conferenced the two calls together.  Hey presto - the call was recorded.

One thing bothered me though, I hadn't told the cold-caller that I was recording them.  At best, it was slightly unethical and rude - at worst it could be illegal.

I was reminded of this when I saw a tweet from Chris Applegate

The site he mentions is hideously out of date - it talks about Oftel who ceased to exist in 2003.  So, I rang Ofcom who inherited most of Oftel's functions.

Ofcom were very helpful - recording telephone calls came under the ambit of the Information Commissioner's Office.

So, I rang them.  Success! The advisers there pointed me to Section 36 of the Data Protection Act.

Domestic purposes

Personal data processed by an individual only for the purposes of that individual’s personal, family or household affairs (including recreational purposes) are exempt from the data protection principles and the provisions of Parts II and III.

This, according to the ICO, meant individuals are not bound by the DPA. Of course, it may well be prudent to let people know that they're being recorded and inform them if you intend to publish the conversation - but there is no obligation for individuals to do so.

Martin Belam raises some points about the Sun broadcasting a phone conversation with Gordon Brown.  While individuals may make recordings and are under no obligation, the whole thing becomes slightly murkier when a company is involved - even if no money changes hands.   I think Martin is right; this sort of exploitation of privatley recorded material should be investigated by the PCC.

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