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Call centre compliance and the legislative minefield

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There are many reasons for recording calls and not all of them involve nefarious activities. One such reason is for businesses to evaluate how effective their call centre employees are, but that doesn’t come without legislation, writes MATTHEW BALCOMB, CEO of CallCabinet Southern Africa.

There are many compelling reasons for recording phone calls, not all of which involve nefarious activities, a super villain and a spy with a licence to kill, or shoring up evidence for the Jerry Springer Show for that matter. In the call centre environment of the corporate world, call recording simply makes good business sense.

The practice allows business to evaluate how effective its call centre employees are at satisfying customer queries and complaints, to analyse protocols for the purpose of improvement, and even to ensure continued compliance. If the movies and Jerry Springer have taught us anything however, then it’s that anything you say can and will be held against you. It’s hardly surprising then that the phrase “This call may be recorded” has the power to strike fear into the hearts of callers.

Good business sense and customer suspicions aside however, is call recording strictly legal in South Africa? There is no simple path to finding that answer. Instead it’s a legislative minefield, but one that ultimately reveals that call recording is not illegal, provided that you narrowly follow the letter of the law(s).

The Laws Governing Call Recording

Here’s where it gets interesting. There’s no single law governing the recording of calls in a call centre environment. Instead the act of determining whether you may record and how to do it in such a way that your business remains compliant, protects the customer’s privacy, and stays squarely within the bounds of the law, is a quest of Tolkien-like proportions.

The Constitution

We begin our journey with the South African Constitution, section 14 of which states that “Everyone has the right to privacy, which includes the right not to have the person or their home searched; their property searched; their possessions seized; or the privacy of their communications infringed.” If you were to stop there, notwithstanding the fact that the constitution does go on to say that such rights are limited in terms of law, the answer to the question of call recording would be a resounding ‘no’. Fortunately we don’t stop there.

RICA

The Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information (RICA) Act 70 of 2002, is an asset to business on this particular quest. Chapter 2, Part 1, Section 4 of the act states that “Any person, other than a law enforcement officer, may intercept any communication if he or she is a party to the communication, unless such communication is intercepted by such person for purposes of committing an offence.”

Section 5 takes this further with its edict that “Any person, other than a law enforcement officer, may intercept any communication if one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent in writing to such interception, unless such communication is intercepted by such person for purposes of committing an offence.”

Section 6 shores this up with its pronouncement that “Any person may, in the course of the carrying on of any business, intercept any indirect communication (a) by means of which a transaction is entered into in the course of that business; (b) which otherwise relates to that business; or (c) which otherwise takes place in the course of the carrying on of that
business, in the course of its transmission over a telecommunication system.

It’s clear then that on the grounds of the business being a party to that call, that party is indeed permitted to intercept that call.

POPI

Things would now appear to be nicely cut and dried, except for the entry of The Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act of 2013 into the fray. POPI is a complex act that does exactly as its name implies. From the outset it identifies that its purpose, inter alia, is to “regulate the manner in which personal information may be processed, by establishing conditions, in harmony with international standards, that prescribe the minimum threshold requirements for the lawful processing of personal information.”

It goes on to clarify that “processing” means any operation or activity or any set of operations, whether or not by automatic means, concerning personal information, including (a) the collection, receipt, recording, organisation, collation, storage, updating or modification, retrieval, alteration, consultation or use; (b) dissemination by means of transmission, distribution or making available in any other form; or (c) merging, linking, as well as restriction, degradation, erasure or destruction of information.

The act furthermore addresses call recordings directly under its definition of ‘record,’ which includes among others, this description: “information produced, recorded or stored by means of any tape-recorder, computer equipment, whether hardware or software or both, or other device, and any material subsequently derived from information so produced, recorded or stored.”

POPI is nothing if not thorough, and in order to be compliant, organisations must ensure they adhere strictly to the multitudinous provisions for the proper and legal processing of personal information.

Section 18 is particularly relevant in the call recording context and addresses such criteria as stating clearly to customers the purpose of recording their call. A simple “This call may be recorded for quality purposes” will not suffice if that recording is to be legitimately used for any purpose other than quality control. To add another layer of complexity, that section requires, among many other such requirements, that the customer be advised of their right to object to such processing (recording). This implies that the call centre must have the functionality to allow individuals to opt out of such processing without abandoning the call.

“But wait, there’s more…”

If that weren’t enough to make your head spin, there are moreover additional laws that impact the call centre. Among others, these include the consumer protection, recordkeeping and data security requirements entrenched in the Electronic Communications and Transactions (ECT) Act, the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services (FAIS) Act, the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA), the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), demanding significant changes to communications and IT infrastructure, operations, policies and procedures.

Bring in the big guns

Running an efficient and secure call centre that uses the best technologies and delivers on your business needs, while ensuring compliance and being strictly legal has become an increasingly difficult task to accomplish in-house. That’s where we come in. CallCabinet is a leading developer of innovative, flexible and cutting-edge cloud and premise-based call recording solutions. We have extensive experience providing affordable enterprise voice recording and call logging solutions, and solutions that are uniquely suited to South African companies in the context of this new regulatory and business landscape.

CallCabinet will help your business navigate a successful path through the legislative minefield to achieve a call centre that meets your needs and exceeds your expectations.

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SA consumers buy 3.2m smartphones in Q1

Smartphone sales in South Africa grew by 12.4% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2018, reaching around 3.2 million units for the period.

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However, the value of the smartphone segment increased by 22.8% as sales of entry-level devices to low- and mid-income consumers continued to drive the market, according to point of sale data from market research firm, GfK South Africa.

GfK South Africa’s data reveals that telecommunications retail enjoyed a strong start to the year, with revenue growing 22.4% year-on-year. The growing popularity of phablets and higher unit prices (as a result of a weaker rand) helped to drive this increase in revenue, against a backdrop of low or negative growth in many segments of the consumer technology market.

“The mobile device market showed good growth in the quarter, despite rising prices during the period under review,” says Norman Muzhona, Solutions Specialist for Telecommunications at GfK South Africa. “In addition to the exchange rate, the introduction of popular, new mid-tier devices by several leading vendors helped to drive higher retail revenues in the telecoms market.”

Information technology retail revenues for the quarter contracted 4.8% compared to 2017, largely because of decreasing monitor prices and a 38.9% decline in tablet revenues. However, desktop computer revenues grew 39% and mobile computing revenues grew 6.5% year-on-year, thanks to higher prices and increased sales of higher-end products.

Says Berno Mare, Solutions Specialist for IT, Office Equipment and Value Added Services: “Retailers introduced new computing devices priced in the R3000 band during the quarter and enjoyed surprisingly strong demand for these entry-level units.

“Telcos enjoyed robust growth in mobile computing retail sales, thanks to credit deals, subsidised contracts and attractive data offers. However, South African consumers are heavily indebted, which may dampen growth for the rest of the year.”

With consumers rapidly migrating to smartphones, sales of traditional mobile phones continued to decline, down 1.6% year-on-year to around 2 million for the quarter. However, the exchange rate and the introduction of higher-priced brands helped to drive a 8.9% year-on-year revenue increase in mobile phone revenues during the period under review.

This follows the 21% drop in mobile phone unit sales in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015. “Operators continue to lead the transition from feature phones to smartphones as they pursue higher data revenues,” says Muzhona. “The entry-level market for smartphones is fiercely competitive, and the minimum specs of lower cost smartphones is improving all the time.”

GfK South Africa expects the migration from mobile phones to smartphones to accelerate in 2018. However, it remains to be seen if the introduction of 4G-enabled, Voice-over-LTE-ready feature phones will have any impact on the South African mobile phone market.

Sectors of the consumer electronic market that showed strong growth for the first quarter of 2018 include loudspeakers—revenues up 21.6% year-on-year, thanks to demand of Bluetooth-enabled product—and ultrahigh definition (UHD) panel TVs—where revenues grew 33%, thanks to the growing affordability of the technology. UHD unit shipments were up 76%, while the average selling price of the products fell 24%.

Other market highlights for the first quarter of 2018 include:

  • Photo category revenues were up 8.1% year-on-year.
  • Small domestic appliance revenues grew 8%, following a 10.3% decline in Q1 2016 over Q1 2015. Hot air fryers sold well, as did kettles and toasters.
  • Major domestic appliances showed small year-on-year growth over Q1 2016, despite a decline in average selling price in many sub-categories of this market. Cooling products continued to make the highest contribution to growth in this segment.
  • Office Equipment revenues declined 18% year-on-year, led downwards by lower printer and cartridge sales volumes.
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What kids want online

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Kaspersky Lab’s latest report on the online activities of children – based on statistics received from its solutions and modules with child protection features – highlights children’s online activities and the importance of protecting them when online. For example, video content globally, comprised 17% of searches over the last months. Although many videos watched as a result of these searches may be harmless, it is still possible for children to accidentally end up watching videos that contain inappropriate content.

The report shows anonymised statistics from Kaspersky Lab’s flagship consumer solutions for Windows PCs and Macs that have the Parental Control module switched on and from Kaspersky Safe Kids, a standalone service for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices.

In South Africa, communication sites (such as social media, messengers, or emails) were the most popular pages visited by computers with parental controls switched on – with users in South Africa visiting these sites in 69% of cases over the previous 12 months. Software, audio, and video accounted for 17% of searches. Websites with this content have become significantly more popular since last year, when it was only the fifth most popular category globally at 6%. The top four is rounded off with electronic commerce (4.2%) and alcohol, tobacco, and websites about narcotics (3.9%), which is a new addition compared to this time last year.

The report presents search results on the ten most-popular languages* for the last 6 months. The data shows that the video & audio category – including requests related to any video content, streaming services, video bloggers, series and movies – are the most regularly ‘googled’ by children (17% of the total requests). The second and third places go to translation (14%) and communication (10%) websites respectively. Interestingly, games websites sit in fourth place, generating only 9% of the total search requests.

We can also see a clear language difference for search requests: for example, video and music websites are typically searched for in English, which can be explained by the fact that the majority of movies, TV series and musical groups have English names. Spanish-speaking kids carry out more requests for translation sites, while communication services are mostly searched for in Russian.

More than any other nationality, Chinese-speaking children look for education services, while French-speaking kids are more interested in sport and games websites. In turn, German-speaking requests dominate in the “shopping” category. The leading number of search requests for porn are in Arabic, and for anime are in Japanese.

“Kids in different countries have different interests and online behaviors, but what links them all is their need to be protected online from potentially harmful content. Children looking for animated content could accidentally open a porn video. Or they could start searching for innocent videos and unintentionally end up on websites containing violent content, both of which could have a long-term impact on their impressionable and vulnerable minds,” says Anna Larkina, Web-content Analysis Expert at Kaspersky Lab.

As well as analysing searches, the report also looks into which websites children visit or attempt to visit that contain potentially harmful content which falls under one of the 14 preset categories** for the last 12 months.

The mobile trend is again highlighted in the figures for computer games, which are now in fifth place locally on the list at 3%. As kids continue to show a preference for mobile games rather than computer games, this category will only continue to decrease in popularity on computers over the coming months and years.cleardot.gif

“No matter what they are doing online, it is important for parents not to leave their children’s digital activities unattended, because there’s a big difference between care and obtrusiveness. While it is important to trust your children and educate them about how to behave safely online, even your good advice cannot protect them from something unexpectedly showing up on the screen. That’s why advanced security solutions are key to ensuring children have positive online experiences, rather than harmful ones,” adds Anna Larkina.

The Kaspersky Total Security and Kaspersky Internet Security consumer solutions include a Parental Control module to help adults protect their children against online threats and block sites or apps containing inappropriate content. In turn, the Kaspersky Safe Kids solution allows parents to monitor what their children do, see or search for online across all devices, including mobile devices, and offers useful advice on how to help children behave safely online.

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