Is it legal to record calls in Australia?
It’s the age-old question we’re asked by new businesses, Is it legal for me to record calls with my customers? You’ll find a lot of guides for this exact question online for countries like the USA, and UK, but here we’ll focus on the answers we got when we put it to our legal team for businesses in Australia.
It should not be construed as providing legal advice in any way. You should seek your own legal advice before enacting call recording for you business. Specialty situations have exceptions and additional considerations.
Now that’s out of the way, the short answer is… if done properly, then yes, it is legal to record calls in all states and territories of Australia.
The slightly longer answer is, although you can legally record calls it’s contingent on meeting certain criteria during your call flow. Let’s walk through some of the things to be aware of when .
Compliance with your staff
First things first, tell your team! One frequent mistake businesses make is to not inform their staff the calls are recorded. If your recording disclaimer is read out prior to the call being connected to the agent, you’ll need to make sure your staff understands and consents to the calls being recorded.
For your protection and their understanding, try to make this a written agreement rather than a verbal one.
If you’re a 23shout user you can check on the compliance option for call recording from the Users and Groups section, your team will be prompted to consent to being recorded the next time they log in.
Get consent early
Timing is everything, when the call first connects to a human (and preferably even before that) you should announce your intention to preserve the audio.
You’ll need to first gain the consent of the remote party within the first 30 seconds of the call, if you gain their consent at 20 seconds into the call for example you’re clear to preserve the first 20 seconds prior to that as well.
Asking them for their consent any later you could run into issues if an audit arises for preserving audio when you reasonably did not have permission to do so.
A great way to implement this is just by having a standard message you can read aloud or have automatically played when the call is answered by your phone system.
Don’t just add it in as a throw away line though, this is going to be your first point of contact with the remote party. Here’s an example of both a good and bad way to work it into your flow…
Aside from sounding just way too blunt, you’re not telling the user why the call is being recorded, and without introducing yourself first you’ll be putting the user on the defensive.
Much better! Now we’re introducing ourselves, clarifying who we are, and stating how this recording will be used. You’ll also notice we’re giving them option to delcine the recording (more on this in a moment).
While it could come across as friendly, this will generally be received as hostile and pretty light on details. Again, let’s try reworking it a little.
Perfect! For our first line we’ve got the name of the person calling, where they’re calling from and why, and a friendly request to record the call and for what purpose.
Remember you’re far more likely to gain a users consent if you specify how the recording will be used.
Give them a way out
Always let your caller know how to opt out of recording, in the example above we let them know to tell your team know if they don’t consent. Although there’s no shortage of businesses around Australia who don’t prompt you about an option not to be recorded, it may have serious implications if scrutinised in court.
Consider what might happen if your client is calling to cancel payments, they don’t consent to being recorded but at the same time are given no option to opt out? You could be found to hampering a consumers rights by not offering to cater to their preference.
Besides, it’s not just a way around a legal complication, it’s just good business.
In 23shout this is as easy as hitting Don't record this call from the dropdown menu on the top right of the call.
Be sure to consult with your provider about how recording data is handled.
Things you shouldn’t record
All the above advice applies to both inbound and outbound calls, but there’s a few special rules for when recording should be disabled entirely.
Be sure your agent has an option to pause recording, or that automated IVR flows, and transcriptions disable themselves if you’re:
- Gathering or providing credit card information (This is also part of your )
- Discussing sensitive financial information (Superannuation for example)
- Passwords, support pins, or challenge questions
The exceptions and misconceptions
At this point 99.9% of readers can stop here, the guide above applies to near all businesses around Australia, now you’ve read it please implement it where possible… but if you’re curious as to the web of legalese around the Commonwealth, read on!
State by state
As you may imagine, nothing is ever straightforward. In Queensland and Victoria for example only one person needs to consent to any conversation being recorded — including over the telephone.
These recordings however cannot be shared outside the original group without all parties consent, unless the recording is being submitted as evidence to court.
It should also be noted though our lawyers told us it’s exceptionally rare that recordings are allowed as evidence to court regardless, and this only applies if all parties are based in the same state.
In West Australia, and South Australia it is illegal to record without all parties first knowingly consenting to the recording first.
Exceptions to the exceptions
There are additional exceptions though even to those laws, for example if the call being preserved is in the best interests of the safety of the caller, or is in the public interest you may not need the other parties consent at all.
Though if you’re even considering these exceptions it’s likely you’ll be dragged into a legal affair at some point or another, in which case be prepared for this excuse to be thrown out, these are here generally for journalists, crime, and other fringe cases, and it’s again rarely accepted.
The gist of all this regulatory spiders web is: Be safe, and declare your recordings properly.
Advanced use cases
Here’s a handy tip, it’s also possible to automatically send your customers a copy of their recording via after the call has ended using our Zapier integration.
The recording URL is available in our Zapier data after a call is hung up which lets your push the recording into any one of thousands of compatible applications including Gmail, Intercom, and Slack.