With hard drive space getting cheaper all the time, and with cloud storage making storage even cheaper still, it seems more and more possible to record every call and keep it forever. Facebook has had some controversy with Graph Search, just as Google once did with contextual ads. As such, users must ask themselves, is it good that we record and keep everything, or does it do more harm than good? Both sides of the argument have valid points; however, does one outweigh the other? This article aims to better answer this question by providing examples of opposing sides of the argument.

Pros Cons
Recording gives consumers more safety and better results. We've heard it a million times. “Your call may be recorded for quality and training purposes.” Calls are recorded for your safety as a consumer. If there is ever a dispute, the company can call up recordings based on your call and resolve the issue. Many banks record your affirming that you have heard a disclaimer. Call representatives can get better at their job by reviewing a call with their supervisor.

Any data that is stored can possibly be stolen. Big companies can take information about you, but they don't always keep it safe. It's not really possible to keep all data secure. One of the most recent threats came from a Chinese malware called “NetTraveler.” According to Kaspersky, NetTraveler has been active since 2004, and affected 40 countries around the world, with the most damage being done in in Russia and India (US and UK victims represented a fraction of one percent of the victims.) Simply put, identity thieves and other bad guys are always going to be one step ahead of the good guys.

Being able to record everything means we always have a record of our lives. In 2011, Google ran the wildly successful “Dear Sophie” ad campaign, which depicted a parent sending emails to himself of his daughter, with the intention that he would one day tell his daughter about the email and give her the password, thus sharing years' worth of memories, like birthday party photos. The implicit promise is that Google will keep this information safe, secure, and available for more than 18 years.

By recording everything, we are increasing the likelihood that we will victimize others. In Lithuania, a woman was photographed by a Google employee doing mundane things. That picture was later used as evidence by the Lithuanian authorities for tax fraud. While no one likes tax cheats, it stands to reason that Google should not have anything to do with Lithuanian taxes. On a more horrific note, in Chicago, three teenage boys recorded themselves raping another teen, then posted the attack on Facebook, a move that victimizes the girl continuously.

Sousveillance, the opposite of surveillance, makes it possible for anyone to capture an important moment.  On February 15, 2013, a meteor blasted its way across the Russian sky. That moment was captured by ordinary people using their inexpensive dashboard cameras. The new wave of self-recording, like Google Glass and smartphones with high-quality cameras, will make it possible to capture life's little moments, and keep them treasured memories or even share them with the world.

Recording is intrusive. As George Orwell so famously put it, “Big Brother is watching you.” Recording devices are everywhere. Speed cameras and eye-in-the-sky security cameras can see you; your email is kept forever; ISPs can track your Internet usage. These all present a panopticon—Big companies can see you, but you can't see them.

The laws regarding privacy and consent are in favor of the stricter location. U.S. Federal law only requires one-party consent for call recording, meaning only one side of a call needs to know that the recording is taking place. Every state  has made its own rules regarding consent to record, and the law as it is written now favors the more strict state if there is an interstate call.

Keeping up with these laws can make it difficult for businesses to know what laws they have to adhere to. Calls are less location-specific than ever, with VoIP and cell phones making it easier than ever to have a conversation far outside your billing area. But businesses that have to follow laws regarding privacy and consent can be uneasy about which laws they have to follow.

Call Recording protects businesses. Businesses aren't exactly villainous. Most businesses are trying to make an honest buck. It can be hard to follow the business adage that the customer is always right if the customer remembers differently than the sales rep. Consequently, honest businesses may lost money by giving a higher degree of service, or a lower price, that was supposedly quoted, even due to honest mistakes and misunderstanding.

Businesses hold all the keys to the data. The average consumer isn't going to record their own phone conversations, they may lack the legal authority, or more likely the technological means to record their dealings with businesses. In the customer side, it might be beneficial for the boss to review an interaction where an employee made a purchase, but that opportunity will be lost unless a company makes the large investment necessary to record calls.

Recording space is getting cheaper all the time. All you have to do is go to your local computer store to see how cheap it is to get a massive amount of data storage in a small physical space. The larger your storage needs, the easier and cheaper it is to scale up.

It's still expensive to save data on a massive scale. Although the per-gigabyte data continues to shrink, our capacity, and in some cases necessity, to save data requires large absolute costs. These costs can hurt businesses, particularly small businesses.

Mandatory recording by law can protect against fraud.  For banks especially, it's important that the consumer be aware of what is happening to his money. This can range from minor bank transfers to mortgages. If more information is taken and stored, it can make litigation easier.

People don't always trust in the Government (or industry). One need look no further than the news to see backlash against government and industry intrusion. Even if motives are pure, many see lots of room for perversion of these laws.

Surveillance cameras prevent shoplifting. When businesses lose money due to shoplifting, they must raise their prices on their product, hurting honest shoppers. More security in stores means lower prices on goods. Surveillance cameras do less to deter shoplifters than human beings. Cameras are only effective only after the crime occurs. Highly trained staff can do a much better job of protecting a store. What's more, that ineffective camera may cost a perfectly good security guard his job.

Smaller cameras empower citizen journalists. Citizen journalists can sneak cameras into overcrowded factories, disgusting restaurants or other hazardous work conditions to shine a light on unsavory business practices. The more the consumers know, the better they are to protect themselves.

Smaller cameras stifle artists' creativity and ruin concert experiences. Unfortunately, not everyone has the best intentions when it comes to recording. Smaller cameras make it easy to violate personal privacy. It’s easy to see how a row of extended hands holding up cameras can ruin the audience’s experience of a concert, but that can actually ruin the artist’s day as well. Artists test out new material before taking it to a wider audience. If artists are less willing to try out new material before it is “ready for prime time,” then they will be more cautious than creative.

Facial recognition software has proven successful in arresting identity thieves. New York State has arrested 2,500 identity theft suspects since 2010. The technology to sift through mug shots and drivers licenses has a very high success rate.

Red Light Cameras are used more to raise money  and not for public safety. Red light cameras can literally make millions for states that install them. That's a big incentive to install red light cameras, even though the data for actual traffic accidents shows a longer yellow light, not a traffic camera, will reduce accidents.

Recording goes beyond call recording and even video recording. With all the different ways to voluntarily share information about yourself, like Facebook, Foursquare, and Instagram, and all the ways of having information recorded about you, there is no right or wrong answer of what to do with it, and whether having all this information is a good or bad thing. Please leave your comments below to share your thoughts about recording, sharing, and saving information about yourself and your family.

Related:
Software-Based VoIP Recording Explained
How VoIP Call Recording Works