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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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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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Buy 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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Pizoelectrics: Healthcare’s new gymnasts of gadgetry

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Healthcare electronics is rapidly deploying for wellness, electroceuticals, and intrusive medical procedures, among other, powered by new technologies. Much of it is trending to diagnostics and treatment on the move, and removing the need for the patient to perform procedures on time. 

Instruments become wearables, including electronic skin patches and implants. The IDTechEx Research report, “Piezoelectric Harvesting and Sensing for Healthcare 2019-2029”, notes that sensors should preferably be self-powered, non-poisonous even on disposal, and many need to be biocompatible and even biodegradable. 

We need to detect biology, vibration, force, acceleration, stress and linear movement and do imaging. Devices must reject bacteria and be useful in wearables and Internet of Things nodes. Preferably we must move to one device performing multiple tasks. 

So is there a gymnast material category that has that awesome versatility? 

Piezoelectrics has a good claim. It measures all those parameters. That even includes biosensors where the piezo senses the swelling of a biomolecule recognizing a target analyte. The most important form of self-powered (one material, two functions) piezo sensing is ultrasound imaging, a market growing at 5.1% yearly. 

The IDTechEx Research report looks at what comes next, based on global travel and interviewing by its PhD level analysts in 2018 with continuous updates.  

Click here to read how Piezo has been reinvented.

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