Welcome to a three-part series that provides an overview of the California Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA), examines recent CIPA litigation involving smart speakers, and proposes defenses in response to an alleged violation.
CIPA in the Age of Smart Devices
The California Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA)—traditionally used by law enforcement and the plaintiffs’ bar to address illegal recording/eavesdropping on phone calls—has seen renewed interest in the age of smart speakers. Smart speakers, such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home and Apple’s Siri, are voice-enabled devices where the user utters a “wake word” to activate a “virtual assistant”. A number of putative class actions have recently been filed over these “virtual assistants” and whether they illegally record individuals without their consent. This recent spate of lawsuits highlights CIPA-compliance risks associated with these new technologies. This article provides an overview of CIPA’s history and features, addresses recently filed CIPA smart-device cases, and recommends defenses for responding to a smart device CIPA action.