Voice Call Recording Across Off-Channel Mobile Instant Messengers

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Communication compliance and employee monitoring systems in the workplace have become quite sophisticated when it comes to recording text messages.

Even with IM chats, compliance teams have in place archiving mechanisms that capture the conversations in real time.

But voice calls over these platforms have emerged as a significant blind spot for companies, especially when made over off-channel apps and personal devices.

Across government agencies and regulated firms, including broker-dealers, banks, etc., the need to tape voice communication has been repeatedly emphasized by their regulators, but the complexity in capturing calls made from end-to-end encrypted IMs with no in-built functionality to do so has left them stumped.

Not recording calls may be illegal

While government employees in certain departments and jurisdictions have to contend with FOIA archiving laws and Sunshine Laws that mandate the safeguarding of their electronic communication, including WhatsApp, WeChat, Telegram, and Signal calls, the private sector too has stringent regulations surrounding IM calls.

Regulators, ranging from SEC to the CFTC, have requirements that make it compulsory for financial firms to maintain records of their IM calls for the necessary duration to avoid penalties, including fines and suspensions. Underlining the seriousness of the issue, FINRA has recently taken the step of suspending individual broker dealers from working in the securities industry for a defined period. This action was taken when these individuals were found to have used unmonitored off channel messaging apps for business communications with their clients. Similar requirements are also imposed on industries, including telecommunication and healthcare.

Other than that, there are regulations, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act that require publicly traded companies to maintain comprehensive records of employee communication, including voice calls over instant messengers.

It is also common for regulators and the judiciary to order companies undergoing trial to produce employee communication about the case as part of e-discovery proceedings.

Challenges in capturing voice calls from off-channel IMs

Regulators have been steadily increasing their pressure on firms to maintain accountability and transparency in their employees’ communication among themselves and with clients. Case in point, the SEC and CFTC imposed combined fines of nearly $2 billion on 11 Wall Street firms allegedly caught using platforms, like WhatsApp for business communication.

Since the massive WhatsApp fines, firms have ramped up efforts to train employees in communication compliance, issue corporate phones with pre-installed apps for conversing, and set in place systems for recording messages.

However, WhatsApp call recording and the capture of voice calls across other similar platforms has turned out to be uniquely challenging due to:

  • The calls being made over off-channel apps installed on devices that the compliance team is unaware of
  • The apps not having a built-in call recording feature
  • Call recording apps on the app stores not being able to record both sides of the conversation properly due to regulations, such as GDPR
  • The inability of existing call recording systems to integrate with the different apps used by employees to make voice calls
  • Inability to maintain and manage the recorded calls in an organized manner for the duration of the retention period
  • Lack of analytics or the ability to red-flag problematic conversations in the archive
  • Lack of audit trail or accountability mechanisms because employees may be able to delete call recordings stored on their phone

How an archiver can ensure compliance across off-channel IMs

Given the challenges and shortcomings of relying on employees or call recording apps, regulated entities need to invest in a comprehensive archiving solution, like TeleMessage.

Notably, the archiver can be deployed throughout the organization to capture voice calls irrespective of whether the IMs are being used on a desktop or mobile phone. Since both BYOD and corporate-issued phones are covered, activity on off-channel apps is also brought into the official record.

As the calls are recorded as they happen, and a copy is securely stored on the server of an archiving vendor of your choice, the WhatsApp, Signal, or Telegram call recording can’t be tampered with for the duration of the retention period for the industry. Crucially, the calls are stored with the relevant metadata, such as employee information, so there is accountability and the calls can be filtered out based on factors, including employee name, mobile number, date, etc. As a result, compliance teams can effortlessly prepare for e-discovery proceedings, resolve internal disputes, and demonstrate compliance to regulatory agencies during audits or reviews.

As archiving happens in the background without any special app installation or the need for any employee intervention, there is no need for extensive training to ensure communication compliance with instant messengers.

The archive is secured with SOC 2-level encryption for maximum data privacy and security. The solution is also set up with rigorous access controls and an audit trail to know how your company or agency’s call recordings have been used. Compliance teams with access to the call recordings will be able to monitor the IM conversations in real-time for potential non-compliance and also enable alerts or red flags when a pre-defined keyword or phrase is mentioned. The latter functionality will empower them to recognize instances of employees deciding to leave the platform that is being monitored for another one without supervision.

Implementing an archiver for capturing off-channel IMs can go a long way in bolstering compliance with FINRA, SEC, MiFID II, FOIA, and Public Record regulations, in addition to many others depending on your industry.

However, organizations need to obtain consent before recording calls, so you can comply with data privacy regulations. Consent is also important to store and process the call recordings as part of your regulatory compliance efforts. It is further worth mentioning that you need to periodically audit your call recordings to ensure you are deleting outdated conversations that have stayed in your custody past the recommended retention period.

Conclusion

TeleMessage can be a reliable alternative to the call recorders on app stores that may not capture both sides of the conversation or require their installation on each device. The 360-degree archiving solution covers all device types and has the distinction of being the only service provider for WhatsApp, WeChat, Signal, and Telegram when it comes to mobile compliance. As a result, compliance teams can rest assured that even off-channel IMs are being captured and retained for as long as needed with all the relevant context. To get started with the TeleMessage archiver, contact us for a demo.

About TeleMessage

TeleMessage captures and retains mobile content, including mobile SMS messages, voice calls WhatsApp, and WeChat conversations from corporate or BYOD mobile phones to ensure compliance with various data protection regulations. The messages are securely and reliably retained within TeleMessage servers or forwarded to your choice of archiving data storage vendor.

Our mobile archiving products securely record content from mobile carriers and mobile devices for various ownership models (BYOD, CYOD, and employer-issued). With our multiple archiving solutions, you can always find the right tools or blend for your requirements:

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