Recording Web Conference Meetings

Jun 04, 2020


With everyone working from home there has been an increase in the number of online video conference meetings.
Can we record these meetings 'for training and quality purposes' and if so, do we need to obtain consent from the participants, or can we rely upon a legitimate interest?

As a Data Protection Professional, at first thought I wouldn't see any harm in this, providing that the participants consented to the recording. We actually do sometimes ask participants on a web meeting, or even in person meetings, if they mind us recording the conversation either in whole, or in part, adding that we don't have to record it, but it will be helpful as "we have lots of complex information to discuss, and it's just better than taking notes".

The problem lies in that where it is not possible to offer the participants a true choice, they feel compelled to agree.
Participants may not see the "value" in being recorded, and may not want to be recorded, but will feel they have to agree in order to participate in the meeting. They could of course mute their audio and turn off their video, but then isn't that defeating the point of a web meeting?

Because of this "unfair choice", I would say that consent is not likely to be a reliable lawful basis except in controlled situations with a genuine choice as in our example above.

On the Legitimate Interest aspect, you may indeed be able justify the recording, after all it's been common place in call centres to record screens and telephone calls for a long time, however, I would ask one question.

If this meeting were in person, would you have a film crew in the room recording that "in person" meeting?
If you answer is "no", "that would just be silly" or anything similar, then you've answered the above question too.
If you would not do this for an in person meeting, why would you believe it is either necessary or proportionate to do it for a web meeting?

Please reach out to us at do-more@xynics.com or by phone on 01604 807120 if you are at all uncertain about your legal obligations or need any advice on how to keep your data safe and secure. We are happy to help in these difficult times.

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