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Recording Calls. Ethical or unethical?

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

With the fast-paced development in technology, recording has become much easier, cheaper and easily accessible. But does that mean that we have the right to record every single word that we hear?

Just because we have the ability to do so, does that mean that we can record a conversation without the speaker's consent? Is it not a violation of privacy? In this context, any individual would wish for us to obtain their consent before recording a conversation. In addition, the ethics of recording comes into play.

Recently, there was an escalation of social, political, and personal issues after a number of call recordings from a politician were disclosed to the public. Since then, the country was divided into many factions and a social dialogue was initiated on the ethics, legality and professionalism of recording voice conversations and dissemination.

Let's take a scenario where a private conversation that was never meant to be disclosed to the public is recorded without the consent of the speaker and leaked to the public. Such short-sighted actions can have a disastrous aftermath including many individuals being falsely accused and their personal lives being shattered. The impact that such a recording would have on an organization; if a certain name is mentioned in the recording, could turn out to be cataclysmic. On the other hand, it could be a threat.

A question arises about the legal acceptance of conversations recorded without consent.

In some conversations, people refer to others as they, he or she, without using names. Such conversations have a less chance of being used against any individual as it is hard to comprehend who or what exactly is being talked about. However, a recording can be edited/ modified and used for blackmail. In this context, a question arises about the legal acceptance of conversations recorded without consent.

Many businesses record conversations between customers and the call centres after receiving the customer's consent. These kinds of recordings are advertised as harmless and intended for better service delivery. However, can we trust these companies to keep our voices safe? Can we be sure that they use the recorded conversations only for the purposes mentioned before the call? They could record it just for the purpose of collecting private information. Selling personal data is a lucrative business, and many companies take part in it to make huge profits.

We can take case that happened with Mark Zuckerberg, where he was accused of selling the data of 87 million users of Facebook, as an example. Also, as we all know WhatsApp was bought by the Facebook company and in it’s privacy statement, it is mentioned that all the calls/voice mails are recorded and saved in their servers. They say that they're encrypted but where is the guarantee? So, an issue arises here as well because, what if the data gets sold again? Can we trust these companies? Will they keep our private information "private"? Are we just falling into their trap that is actually sugar coat deception?

But on the brighter side, an individual can record a threat made against his/her life or record a conversation involving a confession of a crime. These types of recording make criminal investigations and legal court cases much easier. So even if there are many drawbacks and repercussions of recording, the remaining positives serves a greater good.

Therefore, it is clear that we can't just rule out unconsented recordings as illegal. In these unchartered areas, our legal system needs a clear demarcation about what type of unconsented recordings are legal and which are not. And if an unconsented recording is to be ruled as illegally permissible, does our legal framework have an avenue for the victim to take legal action? How do we decide the gravity of that crime? Of course, these give rise to other arguments that we need to think about regarding the topic we discussed above.

But what we should understand is that the issue does not solely lie with the act of recording. Rather, it lies with the intentions of the person using it and how they manipulate the information obtained. All information is at some point or another important, be it personally or professionally and the public should be made aware of how to deal with it in a proper manner.

Courtesy : The Irish Times

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