Thursday, December 09, 2004

Hold the phone!

If you've ever been tempted to pick up the phone extension to listen to your teenager's idle conversations, you may want to reconsider. The Washington State Supreme Court has ruled that it is illegal for parents to eavesdrop on their children.
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.

. . .

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 [the friend of the daughter] on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union.

So essentially it's illegal for parents to actually "parent" their children in Washington.

Coming soon: Parents imprisoned for not forking over allowance money or giving the children their own credit cards.


Post a Comment

<< Home