Parent Can Eavesdrop on Children’s Phone Calls: New York High Court


Every parent wants to know the content of their child’s phone communications. Up until now a parent who recorded the content of their children’s communications—at least in New York—could be held criminally liable under the state’s eavesdropping law. 

The New York Court of Appeals—New York’s highest court—recently ruled in People v. Badalamenti that there is a vicarious consent exception on behalf of a minor child to the state’s eavesdropping law.

According to the court’s opinion, to fall under this exception the court must determine that: “(1) a parent or guardian had a good faith belief that the recording of a conversation to which the child was a party was necessary to serve the best interests of the child, and (2) that there was an objectively reasonable basis for this belief.”

Additionally, courts must take into account “the parent’s motive or purpose for making the recording, the necessity of the recording to serve the child’s best interest, and the child’s age, maturity and ability to formulate well-reasoned judgments of his or her own regarding best interest.”

However, this is not a sweeping mandate to monitor all calls or communications placed by a child minor. Minor children can rest assured that they can still stay up late chatting about Justin Bieber or their latest crush without Mom or Dad eavesdropping into the conversation—at least legally. 

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