Class action is another symptom of California’s privacy push

The Conversation

Quick show of hands ‒ how many of you out there have thought about surreptitiously recording a conversation with someone? (Unless someone is reading over your shoulder, go ahead and raise your hand ‒ we can’t see you.)

All right. It’s a common fantasy. But how many of you have actually gone ahead and done it? It’s incredibly easy. Nowadays, smartphone apps can record every conversation with no indication that anything is amiss. So maybe you’ve given it a try.

But depending on where you live, recording any conversation can open you up to liability. Some states allow you to record without the other person’s consent. Others require both parties to be aware of the recording. You can find a good summary of state laws on Wikipedia if you’re curious.

You’re only curious, of course.

The Wire

Flowers, et al. v. Twilio Inc., et al., a case that recently settled in California Superior Court for Alameda County, deals with a corporate actor accused of recording consumer phone calls.

Twilio, a cloud communications company, offers telephony and text messaging solutions to its clients. Plaintiff Angela Flowers claimed that Twilio surreptitiously recorded consumer phone calls for two of Twilio’s clients: Handy and Homejoy (if you’re wondering, they’re online handyman and housecleaning marketplaces). She also claimed that Twilio archived consumer text messages for home- and neighborhood-scouting service Trulia.

The Takeaway

Turns out California has some rather intense recording consent laws ‒ not a surprise from a state that’s home to some of the country’s most aggressive privacy legislation. Flowers’ specific claim is for violations of California’s Invasion of Privacy Act; California, a so-called two-party consent state, requires that all members of a recorded communication be aware that the recording is taking place.

The case settled without Twilio admitting any wrongdoing while agreeing to pay out $10 million to class members and for attorneys’ fees and costs. Text messages are worth one share while calls are worth eight shares. (These days, does anyone really value the privacy of their phone calls eight times more than their texts?). The company also committed to a policy overhaul that will ensure consumers give consent before recordings are made