Washington Law Review

Comment

Between You, Me, and Alexa: On the Legality of Virtual Assistant Devices in Two-Party Consent States

December 20, 2019 | 94 Wash. L. Rev. 2029

Abstract: When an Amazon Echo is activated, the device is constantly recording and sending those recordings to Amazon’s cloud. For an always recording device such as the Echo, getting consent from every person subject to a recording proves difficult. An Echo-owner consents to the recordings when they purchase and register the device, but when does a guest in an Echo-owner’s home consent to being recorded?

This Comment uses Amazon’s Echo and Washington’s privacy statute to illustrate the tension between speech-activated devices and two-party consent laws—which require that all parties subject to a recording consent to being recorded. This Comment argues that the Washington State Legislature should enact a statute that mirrors the Anti-Eavesdropping Act and carve out a civil cause of action against manufacturers of speech-activated devices for individuals that are harmed by violations of the two-party consent law.
Download Full Comment