Optus launches Call Notes voice recording: Is your privacy at stake?

Posted: 15 December 2021 2:51 pm

Optus's latest voice transcription feature is ringing some alarm bells. Here's why you might be able to rest easy.

Optus's latest voice recording feature – Call Notes – is being met with some suspicion as it will allow its mobile phone customers to record conversations at the sound of a simple voice command.

These concerns are well-founded. According to the 2020 Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey, at least half of Australians are uncomfortable (and 3 in 10 very uncomfortable) with digital platforms, including social media sites.

We turned to Optus to see what it had to say around the issue of privacy.

Optus says transcripts will be deleted within 48 hours

Optus insists that the feature has been designed with security and privacy at its core:

  • It will only transcribe conversations when the verbal command, "Hey Optus, take notes" is used and both callers provide consent.
  • The transcripts are stored locally on your device within the My Optus App, and the notes will be immediately and permanently be deleted from Optus systems once retrieved.
  • If the transcript is not retrieved in the My Optus App within 48 hours, it will also be automatically and permanently be deleted from their systems.

What's the point of Optus Call Notes?

If you're a journalist like me, there's a good chance you'd use this feature to record interviews. Or, it could help you take notes during important client calls if there's consent.

  • Keep in mind: The feature is still in its beta test and being rolled out to a limited number of users on Optus's postpaid plans.

Are Optus mobile plans worth signing up to for Call Notes?

On its own, the Call Notes feature won't impress the masses but Optus, similar to other major providers like Telstra, does offer more perks on its plans than the smaller providers. This makes its value proposition stronger.

Here's a quick overview of what you'll get when you sign up to one of its SIM only plans.

  • Access to the Optus 5G network.
  • Endless data with no excess data charges. Your speeds will be capped at 1.5Mbps after you use up your data allowance.
  • Option to share your data across eligible Optus plans.
  • Unlimited Data Day for an additional $5.
  • Donate Your Data feature to help the wider community.
  • Optus Pause when you want to take a digital breather.
  • Subscriptions to Optus Sport and OS Fitness available for free.

Prices for Optus's SIM only plans start at $45 per month for 20GB and go up to $85 a month for 240GB.

Important note: We've removed all mention of Dubber from this article as the Call Notes feature we're referring to is different to the Optus Mobile Voice Recording and AI function for enterprise customers.

Compare perks and features of Optus against Telstra and Vodafone to see who's offering the most bang for you buck.


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