Can Parents Vicariously Consent to Recording a Telephone Conversation on Behalf of a Minor Child?

An Examination of the Vicarious Consent Exception under Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968

This note examines the privacy rights of children under title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act passed by Con-gress in 1968. Title III strictly regulates the interception of wire and oral communications, providing both criminal and civil liabilities for violators of the statute\'s prohibitions.More specifically, the author evaluates the application of title III\'s civil liability component to situations involving parents em-broiled in divorce or child custody proceedings who tape their chil-dren\'s conversations with the other parent. The note focuses on title III\'s vicarious consent exception, which enables an individual to avoid liability for recording a person\'s conversation if that person has consented to such a recording. The author searches for the correct interpretation of this exception, questioning whether parents should be permitted to speak for their children and waive their children\'s rights to privacy under title III. Although parents who are acting in the best interest of the child currently enjoy the protection of the vi-carious consent exception in most states for recording their children\'s conversations, the author concludes that questionable parental mo-tives should prompt courts to more actively protect children\'s privacy and thus limit the application of the vicarious consent exception.

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