New Directive: Israeli Consumers Can Demand Recorded Conversations

It is the customer’s right to receive any digital information collected by the business, directive states. Regulator: The data belongs to the consumer.

Efrat Neuman
Efrat Neuman
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A hotline call center in Jerusalem (Illustration).Credit: Emil Salman
Efrat Neuman
Efrat Neuman

Efrat Neuman

Service providers will be required to e-mail consumers’ recorded phone conversations carried out with their representatives, under a new directive being advanced by the Israeli Law, Information and Technology Authority of the Justice Ministry.

The directive states that it is the customer’s right to receive any digital information collected by the business, including recorded phone calls, chat sessions or video conversations with a representative. The business will be responsible for providing these records quickly and with little fuss.

This data belongs to the consumer, stated the authority.

The penalty for noncompliance is a 15,000 shekel fine.

Israeli consumers seeking telephone service from service providers such as banks, insurance companies or ISPs are used to hearing automated recordings stating that the conversation may be recorded. These service providers collect and save data about customers due to various laws and regulations, such as the requirement to record a conversation where a customer renews an insurance contract.

This data could also serve customers seeking to challenge a company’s claims – proving that they did not agree to purchase insurance for their cell phone, or serving as evidence in a suit against a bank, for instance.

Until now, customers who have sought to receive recordings of their own conversations are frequently turned down, or given the runaround. It is rare that a company simply forwards the conversation to the customer via e-mail. Often, for instance, a corporation will insist that a customer come to the corporate offices in order to receive the records.

The regulation is currently in draft form, and a 30-day public feedback period is now beginning. It’s fair to assume that corporations will respond with a long list of objections.

Following the feedback, the authority will make any changes to the regulation before publishing it as official policy.

The new regulation is an updated version of an older regulation on consumer privacy, which has been written before the digital era. The current regulation requires companies to give customers all information they collect about their personalities, their health, their finances, their professional skills and more.

The regulation requires companies to provide copies of conversations in the format in which they were carried out – a video conversation must be made available as a movie file, for instance – and they must be made accessible in an easy-to-use file format.

The directive does not state whether companies will be allowed to charge for such a service, or what a reasonable fee would be. It also does not state how long a company needs to save data on conversations.

Authority head Alon Bechar stated, “It’s important that all citizens know that they’re legally permitted to demand the data that big organizations collect on them, and to receive it in a convenient manner.”