‘Butt dials’ are not private, U.S. court rules

'Butt dials' are not private, U.S. court rules

Here’s another reason to make sure your phone is locked when you aren’t using it: an inadvertent “butt dial” at the worst time could land you in court.

A U.S. court of appeals ruled this week that an executive effectively forfeited his privacy when he inadvertently called his assistant who overheard a conversation about inter-office politics.

James Huff is a former chairman of the board that oversees the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. In 2013, he spoke with Larry Savage, a board vice-chairman, about possibly replacing then-CEO Candace McGraw.

Before the conversation, Huff tried to call an executive assistant, Carol Spaw, to make a dinner reservation for himself and Savage, but dialled the wrong number. He then put his cellphone in his back pocket, unknowingly butt-dialling Spaw from the outdoor balcony of a hotel room in Bologna, Italy.

Spaw said, “Hello?” when she answered her phone to no response, but when she realized what was going on, she began recording Huff and Savage’s conversation with her iPhone. Spaw recorded 91 minutes of material, transcribed what she heard, and later shared what she learned with other members of the airport board.

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