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Vodafone launches snooping service

Your call will be recorded - unless it's on an iPhone

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Vodafone is offering to record every conversation for companies interested in knowing what their employees are saying and to whom, but not if they've got an iPhone.

Financial companies are gearing up for mobile phones to be added to the industry's recording requirement, with Vodafone being quick off the mark in launching a service for those who'll need to start recording everything their employees are saying and to whom.

Financial companies are already required to keep recordings of all "relevant communications" for at least six months, but mobile phones were specifically exempted as the technology wasn't considered up to it. Now the Financial Services Authority is consulting on that exemption (pdf) with a view to making all calls equal. That means someone has to record the calls, and Vodafone's solution rather neatly off-loads that onto the customer.

There are plenty of on-device applications for recording phone calls, but only for the more-advanced smartphone platforms. Then there's the problem of collecting all the various recordings. Recording at the network operator level would seem more logical, even if it means additional complexity.

Vodafone Mobile Recording reroutes calls via the company's existing infrastructure where they can be recorded along with the fixed-line calls. But that means putting an application on the handset to reroute outgoing calls, which limits the market to Blackberry and Symbian handsets for the moment at least.

Vodafone tells us it's working on an iPhone version, but Apple doesn't allow interception of outgoing calls so we can't help thinking it's going to take them a while. The iPhone might not be the bankers' choice, but there are more than a few knocking around the City.

The new rules do allow for personally-owned phones not being recorded, but require companies "to take reasonable steps to prevent employees or contractors from using private communication equipment [for business calls]".

The FSA expects the addition of mobile call recording to cost the industry £11m initially, and £18m annually, but it might also cost a few bankers their company-issued iPhones.

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