Is An Internet Chat Transcript An Illegal Eavesdrop?

from the desperation-defense dept

A lawyer defending someone charged with soliciting sex with a minor online has apparently moved to the desperation defense, claiming that the transcript of an internet chat is an illegal eavesdrop. Apparently, Illinois law states that it’s illegal to eavesdrop “using any device capable of retaining or transcribing conversations or electronic communications without the consent of all parties involved in the communication.” Of course, the most obvious response is that by creating the transcript themselves the participants gave their consent to it.

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Comments on “Is An Internet Chat Transcript An Illegal Eavesdrop?”

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Mike (profile) says:

Re: Don't think so

No, I’m saying that since it’s a written communication, they were “making the recording” themselves – which suggests consent to have it recorded.

A regular conversation isn’t being recorded. A typed message is, by default, being recorded. It’s like complaining that the answering machine recorded my message. Of course it did – that’s what it’s designed to do, and by talking to it, I consent to be recorded.

Greg says:

Re: Re: Don't think so

This is faulty logic on two fronts. Just because your typed conversation is digitized and transferred, doesn’t mean it has to be stored or recorded. A transcript of traffic to my website is stored in the web server logs, but it doesn’t have to be. The server can just serve up the pages and not record who it sent them to.

And second, if your IM client stores the conversation, that doesn’t mean mine did.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Don't think so

I still disagree. The fact that it’s written down (no matter where or how it’s stored) is a “record” of the conversation. The fact that after I’ve typed something you can still see it proves that. It’s not like you see one letter I type each second and then it disappears from your screen. By typing it, you are recording it on the other person’s screen. What they do with that recording (keep it, toss it, etc) doesn’t matter. It’s still a recording and you know it as you type it.

Patrick says:

communication medium

Calling IM a ‘recording’ presupposes it is not primarily a communication medium, but a system for recording conversation. Telephone answering machines are for recording, while the telephone network itself is for communication. If the conversation was a series of posts on a newsgroup, this argument would hold water. Otherwise, the issue is expectation of privacy–non-existant in a public chat room, but possible with IM.

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