Recording of Telephone Calls.
Fri, 02 Oct 1998 12:06:58 +1000
Chris, thanks for that reference to: http://www.acif.org.au G516 Guidelines.
It is very good reading, and well worth downloading.
It is an excellent attempt to inform the public. I hadn't realised how
complicated it all was, or how many different bodies and laws were involved.
God knows how the system works at all. I wonder if a telephone line between
Perth and Sydney crosses through South Australia, does the South Australian
law apply also, or only the WA and NSW ones?
The guidelines show a lot of interesting angles.
a) Generally the law doesn't attempt to determine the expectation of the two
parties ó whether the intention of the conversation is to remain private, or
whether it is to reveal the information in public. This was my point about
speaking to the media.
b) They seem to concentrates on the act of recording or listening, not on the
purpose to which such recordings can be put (but some States obviously take a
A couple of times in the past, I've asked a third-party witness to listen in
on an extension phone and take short-hand notes of a conversation because I
knew that someone was deliberately trying to mislead me, and I anticipated
that I'd need a witness to the conversation if the matter ever came to court.
However, these laws don't really allow for that - the fact of listening, is
generally being proscribed.
However, the paper suggests that it is OK when:
> The recording of communications is being made in order to protect the legal
> interests of the party making the recording and may be used for purposes
> which are directly relevant and possibly detrimental to the person whose
> conversation is being recorded. In circumstances where this information may
> be used to the personís detriment, it is highly recommended that additional
> precautions are undertaken by the organisation recording that communication.
And it recommends:
> Express notification should be given to the customer that the listening or
> recording is being undertaken, except in circumstances when it could be
> safely assumed that the customer has knowledge that it is common practice
> that conversations are recorded. Caution should be exercised when relying
> on the use of beeps or pip tones to inform customers that calls may be
> listened to or recorded and their use should be limited to circumstances
> where it is clear that the conversation is being listened to or recorded.
> If technically feasible and where the beep or pip tones may distort the
> information being recorded, they should only be used at the start and end
> of the call so as to avoid any distortion.
This appears to be the stock-broker's out. And it would appear that all
journalists need to is to admit openly that they record conversations (perhaps
publish a 'disclaimer' in the back of the newspaper) so that "it can be safely
assumed that the [customer?] has knowledge that it is common practice" and all
will then be well.
This is an interesting angle, because, in my experience, most journos pretend
it doesn't happen, and try to keep the subject from being discussed in case it
opens a can of worms.
c) Some organisations, like the TAB are seen as exceptions, yet journalism
isn't -- which strikes me as a strange set of priorities. These laws seem to
only determine exceptions according to the commercial value of the operation,
not to its social or political importance. Talk about economic rationaism!
It is apparently OK for a third-party to intecept and monitor call-centre
staff performance by recordings or listening devices, but not a politican
lying to the public via the media (second party recording).
d) There's one disturbing clause which seems to me to suggest that carriers
are being given some special status in their own business dealings with the
> 9.3 This legislation prohibits the use or disclosure of information that
> relates to the contents or substance of a communication or the affairs or
> personal particulars of another person and which comes to that personís
> knowledge in the course of their business and employment, apart from for
> authorised purposes. These authorised purposes include where the disclosure or use:
> is provided to another carrier or carriage service provider in connection
> with the business of that carrier or carriage service provider.
Why is this so? Why do carriage service providers have special rights not
available to other businesses?
Stewart Fist - writer and columnist
http://www.abc.net.au/http/sfist/ (some archives)
http://www.electric-words.com (main archives)
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