Is it legal to record audio in retail stores?

  1. Only capture conversations between your employees and your customers.
    Capturing conversations your shoppers have amongst themselves without getting their consent is a big no.
    No matter where you are, you always need the consent of at least one party to the conversation to be able to capture it and analyze it. In practice, this means you should only capture conversations between your store associates and your customers, and you get the consent of your store associates to do this.
    At Rillavoice, we designed our technology to ensure we only capture conversations between customers and employees. Never conversations between customers amongst themselves. Store associates sign into our app were they click a little checkbox where they consent to their conversations with customers being analyzed for quality purposes.
  2. Private conversations in “all party” states
    If your store is in any one of the 10 “all party” consent states, you need to get consent from both customers and employees… only if the conversations are private.

    This doesn’t include the overwhelming majority of conversations that happen in the store floor where a store associate helps a customer with their purchase.

    These conversations are very clearly not private. Stores are open to the public, there’s many people who could overhear the conversation, and there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.

    Now, if you have a situation where shoppers book personal appointments with your employees for say, a styling consultation, and they’re sitting in a room alone in a one on one appointment that they expected to be private, then you should get the consent from the customer to record that interaction.

    That’s if you’re in California, or Florida, or any of the all-party consent states. In any of the one party consent states, getting consent from your store associates is sufficient.

    You can get consent simply by adding a check box into your online booking system that reads “I understand that my appointment will be recorded for quality purposes”.
    If your store is in Massachusetts or Montana, it doesn’t matter if the conversations are private or not, you should get the consent from both customers and store employees.
    In practice, this means that you either have your store associates disclose to shoppers that their conversations are being recorded for quality purposes, or get the consent from customers before entering the store by putting a clearly visible sign outside of the store or having a store associate communicate it to them.
    Otherwise the kinds of data you can capture with speech analytics are more limited.
  3. Anonymize the data
    If you anonymize the data you’re not going to run into trouble in California with CCPA, or any other state that implements similar privacy regulations.



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I’m the founder/CEO of Rillavoice. We do speech analytics for conversations in offline commerce.