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Call centre compliance and the legislative minefield

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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Two-thirds of adults ready for cars that drive themselves

The latest Looking Further with Ford Trends Report reveals that behaviour is changing across key areas of our lives

Self-driving cars are a hot topic today, but if you had to choose, would you rather your children ride in an autonomous vehicle or drive with a stranger? You may be surprised to learn that 67 per cent of adults globally would opt for the self-driving car.

That insight is one of many revealed in the 2019 Looking Further with Ford Trend Report, released last week. The report takes a deep look into the drivers of behavioural change, specifically uncovering the dynamic relationships consumers have with the shifting landscape of technology.

Change is not always easy, particularly when it is driven by forces beyond our control. In a global survey of 14 countries, Ford’s research revealed that 87 per cent of adults believe technology is the biggest driver of change. And while 79 per cent of adults maintain that technology is a force for good, there are large segments of the population that have significant concerns. Some are afraid of artificial intelligence (AI). Others fear the impact of technology on our emotional wellbeing.

“Individually and collectively, these behavioural changes can take us from feeling helpless to feeling empowered, and unleash a world of wonder, hope and progress,” says Kuda Takura, smart mobility specialist at Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. “At Ford we are deeply focused on human-centric design and are committed to finding mobility solutions that help improve the lives of consumers and their communities. In the context of change, we have to protect what we consider most valuable – having a trusted relationship with our customers. So, we are always deliberate and thoughtful about how we navigate change.”

Key insights from Ford’s 7th annual Trends Report:

Almost half of people around the world believe that fear drives change
Seven in 10 say that they are energised by change
87 per cent agree that technology is the biggest driver of today’s change
Eight in 10 citizens believe that technology is a force for good
45 per cent of adults globally report that they envy people who can disconnect from their devices
Seven out of 10 consumers agree that we should have a mandatory time-out from our devices

Click here to read more about the seven trends for 2019.

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Encounters festival to screen year’s hottest documentaries

The 21st Encounters South African International Documentary Festival has secured the rights to screen 2019’s most acclaimed documentaries.

Fresh from the world’s leading festivals, the documentaries put viewers in places as diverse as the front row of high-fashion’s runways to eavesdropping on an international racist conspiracy with South African ties, from a tribute to Pan-Africanism via Fela Kuti to Afrika Bambaataa’s search for his roots in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

The opening night film, coming just weeks after its World Premiere in Competition at Hot Docs, Toronto’s holy grail of documentary film festivals, will be “Buddha In Africa”. Made by South African director Nicole Schafer, it receives its’ joint South African premiere at Encounters and the 40th Durban International Film Festival.

This delicately observed documentary is about a Malawian teenager in a Chinese Buddhist orphanage in Africa, who finds himself torn between his African roots and Chinese upbringing. The film focuses on Enock, a young teenager caught between his traditional culture, his dreams of becoming a martial arts hero like Jet Li and the strict discipline of Confucianism. Set against the backdrop of China’s growing influence on the African continent this essential film poses complex questions about race, imperialism, faith and culture and offers a subtle exploration of the impact of soft cultural power on the identity and interior life of a young boy and his community.

Director Schafer says: “It’s also about Africa’s relations with other foreign nations, including the former colonisers. It’s this idea that the key to the future of the continent’s development is always held by outsiders, and that in order to succeed, we have to adapt to foreign value systems and policies. I think Enock’s story challenges this idea in very refreshing ways.”

Click here to read about what’s to show at this year’s Encounters festival.

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