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What are the call recording laws?

Last updated: September 2, 2016

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Product: HubSpot Sales
Subscription: Free, Professional

Last Updated: November 3, 2014

The call-recording feature available through our CRM allows you to keep records of your phone calls with contacts to help make follow-up calls easier and keep your team up to date.  With this feature comes some important stuff to consider for recording your calls with contacts in certain places. The information below is designed to provide you with some guidelines on the issues at hand, but it's not legal advice, so we always recommend you speak with your legal team to make sure you've got everything covered (more on this below). 

Some states require more than one party's consent to record a call. In these cases you'll need to make sure that everyone involved consents before starting to record a call. If a number's area code is associated with one of these states, the CRM is configured to turn off the recording feature automatically and display a pop-up alert when the feature is turned on to remind you to obtain consent. 


However, because we can't be sure where your contact is actually located when you call them (especially since we live in a world of mobile devices) it's good practice to get consent where there's any uncertainty, or to consider making it a policy to always ask for consent. 

 

In the majority of U.S. states, you'll only need consent from one of the people participating in a call in order to record it (this is often referred to as "one-party consent"). Since you're opting to record the call you're placing, and presumably you consent to your own recording of the call, you won't need to do anything else to comply with the laws of those types of states. 

However, approximately 13 states have chosen to require all parties' consent (sometimes called "two-party consent") in order to record the call. These states, as of this writing, were: California, Connecticut, Delaware*, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Vermont*, and Washington State. 


For more general information on the subject, you might want to take a look at Wikipedia's page on telephone recording laws or the Digital Media Law Project's article on some of the basics of state recording laws

*We've chosen to include Delaware and Vermont on this list because they're tricky cases: Delaware has some conflicting laws about how many parties need to consent, and Vermont doesn't have specific laws on the subject, but does have some relevant court cases. 

In the UK

Several laws govern the practice of recording calls in the UK. Unless you can guarantee that the call won't be shared with any third parties and is being recorded to either gather evidence, ensure regulatory compliance, or prevent crime, it's best to think of the UK as an "all-parties' consent" jurisdiction. 

You can read more about the UK's approach by checking out Wikipedia's page on telephone recording laws, Ofcom's FAQ page for the regulations, or VanillaIP's quick summary on the subject. 

Irish law is pretty clear: to record calls, you must obtain consent, so Ireland joins the UK and 13 U.S. states as an "all-parties' consent" jurisdiction. 

Irish law makes clear that the purpose of the recording should be explained in detail, so the parties participating can give informed consent. 

You can read more about Ireland's approach to call recording at the end of the Data Protection Commissioner's FAQ page

ireland

Like Ireland, Canada has established a single set of rules for call recording, built into its electronic privacy law (PIPEDA). 

Joining the other countries and states mentioned above, Canada has adopted an "all-parties' consent" approach: to record a call, you need to obtain informed consent by notifying others on the call (1) that you intend to record the conversation, (2) any purposes the recording will be used for, and (3) that the call may only be recorded with each person's consent. 

For more details on Canada's approach, you can take a look at the Privacy Commissioner's Guidelines for Recording Customer Calls

While we've chosen to highlight certain countries above, it's by no means an exhaustive list. Before making a call to a new country, we recommend making sure that you and your legal team have an understanding of any regulations there, and always obtain consent if you're in doubt. 

 

So, just to recap: if you're calling to someone in the U.S. who might be in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Vermont, or Washington State, or if you're calling to someone in the UK, Ireland, or Canada, you should get all parties' consent before recording the call. As a reminder - this is some information about selected countries only, so you'll want to ensure you understand the rules that apply when calling into any country (not just the ones listed here). 

 

The countries above were chosen for informational purposes - we don't guarantee that you can use our CRM to call any or all of these countries. This guide has provided information about the law designed to help our readers better understand the legal issues surrounding call recording. But legal information is not the same as legal advice -- the application of law to an individual's specific circumstances. Although we have conducted research to better ensure that our information is accurate and useful, we insist that you consult a lawyer if you want professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is accurate. To clarify further, you may not rely upon this information as legal advice, nor as a recommendation or endorsement of any particular legal understanding, and you should instead regard this article as intended for entertainment purposes only.