Hey parents… Before you listen to your kids on the phone to see to see if they’re doing anything harmful to themselves check your state law. Then get it in writing that your kids are okay with the fact that you may listen in randomly.
Why? “11 states require consent from all parties involved before a conversation may be intercepted or recorded.” ALL is ALL – not everyone 18 and older.
How many people are fans of the loss of privacy? Not many I’d bet. If we’re going to ensure that children have someone helping them, teaching them, etc. then this ruling definitely says “Don’t blame the parents” and puts it on a scary soap box. Remember, you can’t blame the parents.
Court: Mom’s Eavesdropping Violated Law
Thu Dec 9,11:32 PM ET
SEATTLE – In a victory for rebellious teenagers, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a mother violated Washington’s privacy law by eavesdropping on her daughter’s phone conversation.
Privacy advocates hailed the ruling, but the mother was unrepentant.
“It’s ridiculous! Kids have more rights than parents these days,” said mom Carmen Dixon, 47. “My daughter was out of control, and that was the only way I could get information and keep track of her. I did it all the time.”
The Supreme Court ruled that Dixon’s testimony against a friend of her daughter should not have been admitted in court because it was based on the intercepted conversation. The justices unanimously ordered a new trial for Oliver Christensen, who had been convicted of second-degree robbery in part due to the mother’s testimony.
The case started with a purse-snatching four years ago that shocked the island town of Friday Harbor, population 2,000. Two young men knocked down an elderly woman, breaking her glasses, and stole her purse. Christensen, then 17, was a suspect.
Sheriff Bill Cumming asked Dixon, whose daughter was friends with Christensen, to be alert for any possible evidence. When Christensen called the Dixon house later, Lacey Dixon, then 14, took the cordless phone into her bedroom and shut the door. The mother hit the “speakerphone” button and took notes on the conversation ? in which Christensen said he knew where the purloined purse was.
The ruling will likely not result in parents being prosecuted for snooping, Cumming said. But it forbids courts and law enforcement from using the fruits of such snooping.
Federal wiretap law has been interpreted to allow parents to record their child’s conversations. But Washington privacy law is stricter. Washington is one of 11 states that requires consent from all parties involved before a conversation may be intercepted or recorded.
“The Washington statute … tips the balance in favor of individual privacy at the expense of law enforcement’s ability to gather evidence without a warrant,” Justice Tom Chambers wrote.
That right to individual privacy holds fast even when the individuals are teenagers, the court ruled.
“I don’t think the state should be in the position of encouraging parents to act surreptitiously and eavesdrop on their children,” agreed attorney Douglas Klunder, who filed a brief supporting Christensen on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Lacey Dixon, now 18, graduated from high school and is attending a massage therapy school, her mother proudly reported. Christensen’s whereabouts are unknown.
Dixon has a 15-year-old son still at home, whose phone conversations she sometimes secretly monitors. She said she’ll stop that now.
“If it’s illegal, I won’t do it,” she sighed.