Corporations Have The Right Of Free Speech But No Right To Eavesdrop

In 1967, the California legislature enacted Penal Code § 632 as part of the “California Invasion of Privacy Act”. The statute imposes liability on “Every person who, intentionally and without the consent of all parties to a confidential conversation, by means of any electronic amplifying or recording device, eavesdrops upon or records the confidential communication . . . . .” (emphasis added).

Does § 632 apply when a corporation’s supervisory employees secretly monitor conversations between a customer and other corporate employees? San Diego Superior Court Judge William R. Nevitt, Jr. thought not, reasoning that the statute does not apply because it requires a third party and in this case there are only two parties – the corporation and the customer.

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