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Guidance for monitoring e-mails and phone calls


Minister for e-Commerce and Small Business Patricia Hewitt yesterday published draft regulations setting out the conditions in which businesses can record and monitor e-mails and phone-calls.

The new regulations come under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Act. The Act sets out to establish a new legal framework to govern the interception of communications in the course of their transmission on public or private telecoms systems. It also aims to establish a basic principle that communications may not be recorded or monitored without the consent of the senders and recipients. The purpose of the Lawful Business Practice Regulations is to make sure that legitimate business practices are not prevented by the new regime.

The regulations allow business and public authorities to record or monitor communications without the caller's consent in such cases as:

  • Recording evidence of transactions;
  • Ensuring compliance with regulatory or self regulatory rules or guidance;
  • Gaining routine access to business communications;
  • Maintaining the effective operation of their systems;
  • Monitoring standards of service and training; and
  • Combating crime and the unauthorised use of their systems.

Ms Hewitt said, "These draft regulations need to strike the right balance between protecting the privacy of individuals and enabling industry and business to get the maximum benefit from new communications technology."

"These regulations will not lead to significant changes in normal business practice in normal business practice. But they will help users of e-commerce to be confident about giving information over the telephone, e-mail or internet."

"We have worked closely and constructively with the Small Business Service and consulted widely with business to improve the drafting of these regulation."

"These regulations will reassure businesses, who can be confident that their normal business practice will not fall foul of the law."


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