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I know this is unethical but is it legal?

SatanIsMyMotorSatanIsMyMotor Registered User regular
edited June 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
In the business and media world is it legal to take a voicemail someone left you (wherein they disclose personal information such as their phone number) and then turn around and put that message on the internet?

This happened to me yesterday and I'm pretty pissed about it. Our office has gotten calls calling some people "bitches" and the big "N" word. Do I have any recourse here?

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Posts

  • RaggaholicRaggaholic Registered User
    edited June 2008
    In business, any voicemail left on a company phone is property of the company. In non-business use, any voicemail left on the phone of a private individual becomes theirs.

    That's the simple answer.

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  • NibbleNibble FormosaRegistered User regular
    edited June 2008
    But is it legal to disclose other people's personal information by posting that voicemail publicly? I would imagine that if he had mentioned credit card or bank account numbers, then it must be illegal. If it's just a business phone number, then probably not, as that should already be publicly available.

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  • ScrubletScrublet Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    *Note: I am not a lawyer*

    As I understand it, this is totally legal. As an individual, you CHOSE to leave them a voicemail with your information (read: you TRUSTED them to behave responsibly and voluntarily gave them information without any strings attached). I believe this is somewhat related to all those cases that popped up for a bit surrounding facebook once it got huge. People were getting pissed because people were using things on their facebook (and myspace pages) in ways they didn't want (public postings, job searching, etc.). The final ruling by the courts: You put it up in the public domain, you deal with the consequences. A voicemail isn't the internet, but I believe the rule still applies.

    Edit: This is why you'll see those tiny "Privacy Policy" links all over online when you fill out forms for stores, new groups, etc. Among other things, these policies generally prevent the behavior that you're taking issue with here.

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  • MalkorMalkor Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Simple answer, ask your HR dept. They're obviously going to be biased towards what the company wants/needs, but at least you'll be sure about how you'll stand if it ever gets back to you. If these people are calling you on non-business related matters they may not care, and they'll tell you to either leave it alone or escalate it with the proper authorities by blocking those particular numbers or involving the cops if it gets to the point of harrassment.

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  • CoJoeTheLawyerCoJoeTheLawyer Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Raggaholic wrote: »
    In business, any voicemail left on a company phone is property of the company. In non-business use, any voicemail left on the phone of a private individual becomes theirs.

    That's the simple answer.

    This is basically my understanding. Unless there was the expectation of privacy with regards to leaving the voice mail message on a company phone, it's fair game to be posted online, transcribed and placed on a billboard, turned into a catchy theme song, etc. etc.

    This is a very shitty thing for whoever to do to you, and it may lead to some inter-company discipline (including termination) but I don't think it violates any criminal statutes.

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  • SatanIsMyMotorSatanIsMyMotor Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Follow up question. I'm probably going to have to contact this guy later. Is he allowed to record me on the phone without my knowledge or if I ask him not to.

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  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Follow up question. I'm probably going to have to contact this guy later. Is he allowed to record me on the phone without my knowledge or if I ask him not to.
    Depends upon what states the two of you are in. If it were me, I'd probably contact the guy exclusively through e-mail, and assume that whatever I wrote is going to be posted for all the world to see.

  • SatanIsMyMotorSatanIsMyMotor Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    See, I was under the understanding that you needed informed consent from people in order to record private conversations. I understand the instance of putting a message online as I voluntarily left said recording but in the case of a real-time conversations I think it's a separate issue.

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  • CrashtardCrashtard Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    As far as I'm aware, you cannot record a conversation without telling the other person it's being recorded. You could, but it's not legal.

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  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Again, it depends on what state you're in. There is no federal law on the subject. In many states, you need approval from all parties in order to record a conversation; in some, you only need approval from one.

  • Mad HatterMad Hatter Registered User
    edited June 2008
    It doesn't really matter, because he'll probably record it anyway. So cover your ass.

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  • SarcastroSarcastro Registered User
    edited June 2008
    It would depend on the nature of the business. In a corporation, were some peon to take a business conversation, or a VM left on a corporate mailbox, and turn it into public spectacle without corporate consent, it would be construed as misuse of Company property, fall into the area of gross misuse or negligence, possibly leading to immediate termination.

    In a mom and pop outfit, where the boss or his friend is the guy getting these calls, gives the thumbs up to do such a thing, then sure, it would be legal. A VM is a recording, you gave your consent to the recording when you left your message, intending it to be recorded. If that recording makes you look like a douche, so be it.

    Is it good practice? Probably not. Generally, larger companys have a CorpSec division or manager, who writes 'professionalism' letters to clients, mentioning that they are in fact a business, and communications have an expectation of professional language with zero tolerance towards slurs, racial epithets, threats, etc.

    One of my jobs over the years was to call and educate some of our more inappropriate clients as to what is and is not acceptable when talking to an agent or company representative. Of course, I was backed by a field of lawyers and security officials, just in case things turned nasty, but the reasoning and process I would imagine to be very much the same, no matter what the size of the outfit.

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  • CasualCasual flap flap flap wiggle wiggle wiggle Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    As with any legal matter it depends where you live, in the UK that would be illegal as such information is covered by the data protection act which includes a clause about giving personal or contact information to third parties without your express consent. If you are in the US however I couldn't say it depends which state you live in.

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  • HoukHouk Nipples The EchidnaRegistered User regular
    edited June 2008
    This website lists the 12 states that require both parties to consent to recording (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Washington). If you live in one of these states, he has to get your consent. If you don't, he doesn't.

    If one of you lives in one of these states and the other doesn't, well then...I have no idea. And I would bet anything that whatever company he works for has a privacy policy regarding received voice mails, if only to cover their own ass. So yeah, probably not illegal but almost certainly fire-able.

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  • SatanIsMyMotorSatanIsMyMotor Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    I live in Canada. They was from the states.

    Anyways, it's all sorted now anyway. He removed the video at my request.

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