Posted on 16th May 2012 @ 2:07 PM
When it comes to relationships, sometimes you can never be too sure. But where is the line between assurance and prying? This story tries to answer that question.
People often rely to covert surveillance technology, like hidden cameras and audio recording devices, to monitor the activity of their significant others, especially if there is some sort of legal proceeding going on. Divorces and custody hearings are a perfect example of this.
In a recent case, Brian, a father from Texas who asked that his last name not be used, says that he found out his ex-wife was secretly recording conversations and interactions of him and his son. His son came clean and told him about it. Evidently, Allison, Brian’s ex-wife, placed a recorder inside their son’s jeans.
"My son told me, 'Dad, Mom has all these recordings of us inside the house.' I said, 'what do you mean?'" Brian said. "'She has all these recordings and she listens to them at night.' And I pulled my son close to me and patted him down, and that's when I found the recorder."
Brian documented his discovery to prepare to take the situation to court. His attorney has filed a formal complaint, saying that the use of the digital recorder without Brian’s consent is a violation of wiretapping laws. As a response, Allison made a public statement, saying "The allegation of wiretapping is inaccurate and is in the process of being dismissed through an agreement between he and I."
Alison’s attorney also added, "Brian is a three-time convicted felon. He is currently on parole... His federal lawsuit is nothing more than trying to gain the upper-hand in the family court."
Brian released a counter-statement to the claims, saying that the charges are old and don't reflect on his parenting ability.
One of the primary reasons do-it-yourself snooping has become more widespread is because it is relatively cheap and easy. Surveillance equipment can cost less than $300, and spy gear that can't be found in a store can be bought online. Some recording devices are small enough to be mounted on a keychain, a motel room peephole, eyeglasses, pens or even inside a child's favorite toy.
"The one thing that's exchanged between the warring parties is the child, So the child becomes, in effect, some sort of Trojan horse." said John Kinney, a divorce attorney who has worked on a number of high-tech cases.
Duke Lewton has been on the other end of those devices in a vicious battle over his 7-year-old daughter, whose mother rigged her teddy bear with a microphone and told her to carry it at all times.
"[She] removed a few stitches, placed a recording device inside of the little bear's head, and then you could access a USB port on the side of the head ... and download all of our conversations that we had had through the weekend," Lewton told ABC News.
Lewton's wife was fined $10,000 for violating wiretapping laws and the tapes were thrown out of court.
But the law is murky. In 38 states, it is legal to secretly record in a public place. Federal wiretapping laws protect the privacy of your cell phone conversation and your computer, and most of the time, judges don't allow it.