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Dublin: 7 °C Saturday 23 August, 2014

Revenue “has not suspended call recordings over data protection concerns”

It had been alleged that Revenue had suspended calls in recent days, but it says it is reconfiguring its new systems.

Image: phone cord via Shutterstock

THE OFFICE OF the Revenue Commissioners has clarified allegations that it has suspended its phone recording system.

Socialist MEP Paul Murphy had said today he had a “serious concern” reported to his office that in recent days the senior management at the Revenue Commissioners had “suspended the use of the phone recording system, organised by the private company Red Box because of data protection concerns.

Murphy called on Revenue to make a statement about the matter.

Response

Revenue subsequently issued a statement saying that it has not suspended call recordings across its system, but is reconfiguring its new systems.

It said that the recording of incoming calls to Revenue call centres for security and training purposes has been a standard feature in its customer service areas for the past eight years.

It said that callers are made aware of this when they contact Revenue.

The recording of ‘outbound’ calls had to be added for specific areas of Revenue work last year because of Irish Payment Service (IPS) requirements. Payment Card Industry (‘PCI’) compliance standards require the maintenance of such records.

Revenue said that a technology upgrade being rolled out has the capability of recording outgoing calls, and it is intended to use this in certain areas only, such as call-backs to people who ring the call centres at peak times.

“Such callers will have been advised that calls are recorded when they made the initial call,” said Revenue.

It added that protocols have been in place since the beginning and have been updated and modernised to take account of new environments, such as PCI.

These protocols include the circumstances in which calls are reviewed within Revenue. Management staff and unions have been advised of updated protocols and a process of increasing staff awareness is underway.

Revenue “has not suspended call recordings across the organisation but is currently configuring the new systems to better support the needs of individual areas within Revenue, as part of a continuing roll-out”.

Not all Revenue work areas require or use all the call recording functionality.

Access to any recorded calls is strictly controlled with full audit trails and Revenue management oversight to ensure that there is no breach of taxpayer confidentiality.

Other than PCI compliance requirements, Revenue protocol provides that no call recordings are retained for longer than 6 months.

“There is no question of a private company having access to the recordings,” concluded Revenue.

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