Bill Would Let Companies Secretly Record Some Phone Calls

by Kathleen Pender, San Francisco Chronicle

Business spying on customer phone calls


A bill that would let companies secretly record phone calls with current or former customers for up to 20 seconds was approved by the Assembly Committee on Public Safety Tuesday.

AB925 passed along party lines, but not in a way you might expect. The five Democrats voted in favor of the bill, which was opposed by consumer groups and endorsed by business groups including the California Chamber of Commerce. The two Republicans on the committee voted against it.

California is one of a dozen states that prohibit, under most circumstances, the recording of phone calls without the knowledge and consent of all parties. A person who does not hang up after being told a call will or may be recorded is presumed to have given consent in California.

California’s law was created in 1967 and applied to all “confidential communication” carried on between people in person or by “telegraph, telephone or other device, except a radio.” Confidential is defined broadly as “any communication carried on in circumstances as may reasonably indicate that any party to the communication desires it to be confined to the parties thereto.”

Even so, the “confidential” requirement makes it nearly impossible to bring class-action lawsuits against a company because the company could argue that each call was not confidential, said Richard Holober, executive director of the Consumer Federation of California.

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