EXCLUSIVE: Why is the CRA recording your private conversations?

Why is the Canada Revenue Agency recording your private conversations?

It turns out the CRA has started recording calls to their agents in December, for quality and training purposes. That part isn't strange. What is, is the warning that "please note that your call -including time spent on hold- may be recorded".

That means the part where you aren't talking to anyone on the other end of the line, is also being recorded.

"If that was me, I'd have to ask why they are doing that?" says Ann Cavoukian, a former privacy commissioner in Ontario, and the current executive director of the Global Privacy and Security By Design Centre. "I don't understand why there would be a need to record even if you're on hold."

She says this does raise some very serious privacy concerns, especially since the CRA generally deals with very sensitive personal information.

"I think it's incumbent on them to provide an explaination, at the very least." says Cavoukian.

Andrew Clement, a Proffessor Emeritus with the Faculty of Information at the U of T, agreed that this is a problem, saying in a statement, "I presume CRA keeps recording while on hold because its equipment is not able to automatically stop recording when the call is on hold. I'm not a lawyer, but I expect CRA's only defense would be that it is prohibitively expensive or otherwise infeasible to modify its equipment to avoid this egregious recording."

When we reached out to the CRA, they declined a recorded interview, but provided NEWSTALK 1010 with a statement attempting to explain themselves.

The Canada Revenue Agency's (CRA) call centres do record calls. These recordings are used for training purposes and to evaluate the quality and accuracy of the information agents provide to taxpayers." reads the statement.  It goes on to read, "The CRA has a deep commitment to taxpayer privacy and security, this is why we openly advise callers that their time on hold may be recorded. To protect the privacy of taxpayers, we suggest that callers mute their end of the line or refrain from discussing personal matters while on hold."
 
The CRA also says upon request, you can have a non-recorded interaction, but you must ask for it.

Cavoukian says your best recourse is to contact the federal privacy commissioner.