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Yet Another Example of Why You Should Always Lock Your Phone (and Start Asking Interlocutors to Do the Same)
Blake A. Klinkner
Your phone rings, and when you look to see who is calling, you see that it is your distant cousin, Johnny. Johnny only calls you when he wants money, or wants you to defend him for free, or wants something else from you. You roll your eyes, and let his call go to voicemail, and after a couple minutes you see that Johnny has indeed left a message for you. After putting it off for a little bit, you check your voicemail to see whether Johnny wants money, a favor, or both. Instead of either of these requests, all that you hear on the other end of the phone is a message containing inaudible voices, static, and other sounds. With a deep sigh of relief, you disconnect from voicemail, realizing that Johnny didn't really call you — he "pocket dialed" you.
We have all received and/or made a pocket dial. Hopefully, the experience encourages one to take better steps to lock and otherwise secure one's phone. This is especially true since a growing body of case law suggests that individuals should be prepared to accept the unintended consequences of their pocket dials, since society has come to expect that people might do outrageous things when they are pocket dialed.
The recent case of Huff v. Spaw has made headlines in the legal tech community, not only for the rather amusing1 legal commentary from both the trial and appellate courts, but also because of the rather stark ways in which the courts suggest that technology removes expectations of privacy from its hapless users. In this case, the plaintiff, Mr. Huff, pocket dialed the defendant, Ms. Spaw, who listened to the pocket dial for 91 minutes while also recording much of the call; the pocket dial allowed Ms. Spaw to eavesdrop on a face-to-face conversation Mr. Huff had with a coworker to discuss personnel matters, as well as a subsequent face-to-face conversation Mr. Huff had with his wife and...