TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Business Monitoring of Phone Calls

Re: Business Monitoring of Phone Calls

Justin Time (
14 Jan 2005 06:35:49 -0800

> But when a notice that the call may be monitored "for quality control
> or training purposes" is played and you do not object to that fact
> when connected, then you have waived your right to privacy.

Isn't that sort of a cop-out? Given that it's the only way to do
business with some organizations you're essentially saying that by
doing business with them you're waiving your right to privacy.

If you voice the objection to the monitoring of the call and any
information that may be obtained from an automated recording is used,
then you have a case for illegal wiretap. Granted, the customer rep
you are talking to may not be able to turn off the recorder or other
device, but you have put the people with the device on record.
Perhaps the legal issue that should be decided is, if I complain, what
assurances do I have that the recording or monitoring has been

And to the observation from someone else regarding "the message isn't
played on outgoing calls" is truly specious. As part of my employee
orientation is a notice that the use of company facilities for
personal reasons may be grounds for disciplinary action. The point
that responder failed to note is who owns the facilities that are
being used? If I use the companies computers to run a side business
during company hours, should my behaviour be excused becasue a notice
wasn't played or flashed on the screen every time I logged on?

How about when I go in and am told the company provides me with a
telephone for business purposes? If I use the telephone to check on
Uncle Mort and Aunt Minnie living in a nursing home 1,500 miles away
and talk to them for a couple of hours a week "because they are
lonely" am I using the companies resources for what they were

Granted, these examples are extreme, but then I have seen people
attempt to use them to justify their improper use of time and
resources. Most of us would balk at walking out the door with cash
from the company, or even computers, printers, and other devices
because we would recognize that the act is called stealing. But how
many of us balk at using company equipment to "do a little shopping",
"check up on my friends" or a myriad of other things that "don't
amount to much?"

Funny thing about monitoring, when it became common knowledge around
the company that a certain person had been terminated for their abuse
of the company's telephone system -- calling their significant other
overseas and spending a couple of hours on the phone -- the outbound
long distance bill was reduced dramatically for about 6 months. And
the dismissal came after two warnings, one from their direct manager,
the other from Human Resources for repeated offenses.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Back in about 1976, I had a part time
job looking after an old cord-board type PBX at a hotel in Chicago. I
found out that one of the telephone operators was spending a huge
amount of time on personal long distance calls which were not getting
recorded or accounted for (financially). So I had telco install a
service monitoring device (a tap) on the switchboard. Not on the
various extensions or the trunk lines; I had it placed only on the
operator's 'common talking path'; that is, the circuit which came open
whenever the operator toggled a key to respond to a caller. I was able
to sit in an office and listen to a loudspeaker (actually a speaker
phone thing) whenever ***and only when*** she flipped a key to answer
an incoming call or a resident asking for a call, etc. When she did
not have a key open (as should have been the case anytime she, herself
was not eavesdropping or making a personal call from the switchboard)
then I could hear nothing.

Shirley -- the operator -- was *so indignant* about that tap on the
line, she told *everyone* that 'their phone calls through the switch-
board were being monitored', which was totally false. (Bell did
require that a notice they provided be posted in a conspicuous place
on the switchboard itself.) I tried to explain to Shirley that the
only thing which could be monitored was *her conversations when made
at the switchboard*, and the way to avoid that was by making her
personal calls (to wherever, even when on duty) from another telephone
in the system. Of course, Shirley was trying to stir up discontent
by the tenants; eventually the management dismissed her. PAT]

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