“Snooping on kids” in court

11 Dec

In a surprisingly bad piece of reporting from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that the Washintgon State Supreme Court rules that parents cannot evespdrop on their kids:

In a victory for rebellious teenagers everywhere, the state Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a mother violated Washington's privacy act by eavesdropping on her daughter's phone conversation.

Privacy advocates hailed the ruling.

The mother, however, was unrepentant.

"It's ridiculous! Kids have more rights than parents these days," said Carmen Dixon, 47, of Friday Harbor. "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."

While it first appears that the Mom was being barred from snooping on her daughter, in fact the court was not considering the legality of the Mom's actions.  They were considering the legality of action by local police in investigating a crime:

The Supreme Court ruled that Dixon's testimony against a friend of her daughter's 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 partly because of Dixon's testimony.

The Court  essentially said the action of the mother lead to knowledge of a crime that as inadmissible in court.  The court would have said the same thing if the police had wiretapped the daughter's phone without a court order.  Because the mom had been asked by the police to keep an eye on the daugher, she was acting as an agent of the police and her actions were illegal. 

The article does try to clarify at the end:

The ruling will not likely result in parents being prosecuted for snooping, Cumming said.

But it forbids courts and law enforcement from using the fruits of such snooping.

But the damge is already done and who reads to the last paragph anyway?  A bunch of teenages are going to be like, hey you can't listen in on my phone calls or read my diary or whatever.  While I think those things are dumb in most cases, they do have there place in parenting and the court didn't actually say anything about that.  So parents keep on snooping and reports don't try to make "cute" stories out of things that aren't all that interesting.

Link: Mom's snooping on daughter violated privacy act, court rule.

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