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Court Prohibits Parents From Eavesdropping

In a victory for rebellious teenagers, the Washington Supreme Court (search) ruled Thursday that state law prohibits parents from eavesdropping on a child's phone conversations.

The case reached the high court because of a purse-snatching. A 17-year-old boy was convicted of the robbery, in part on testimony from his girlfriend's mother, who overhead him discussing the crime on the phone with her daughter.

The daughter had taken a cordless phone into her bedroom and closed the door. In another room, her mother pressed the speakerphone button on an extension, listened in and took notes.

The court ruled that the daughter and her boyfriend had a reasonable expectation of privacy on the phone. Washington state law prohibits intercepting or recording conversations without the consent of all participants.

"The Washington privacy statute puts a high value on the privacy of communications," Justice Tom Chambers wrote in the unanimous opinion.

The boyfriend will get a new trial.