Townsend is worth examining for two additional reasons. First, Townsend illustrates the palpable need for the legislature to update the WPA. The underlying problem in Townsend was the application of a statute that was written in the era of rotary telephones to the issues that arise in modem electronic communications. Because of the inherent differences between electronic and traditional media, novel questions invariably arise that cannot be readily answered by resorting to existing doctrines. Finally, the plain language of the current statute has absurd results when applied to the modem infrastructure of the Internet. Part II of this Note discusses the historical background of privacy as it relates to communications technologies, how this historical background has informed the evolution of the WPA, and how Washington courts have interpreted the WPA. Part III presents the facts of Townsend, a discussion of the court's analysis, and an examination of the resulting fallout. Part IV concludes with several suggestions for reform of the WPA.
James A. Pautler, You Know More Than You Think: State v. Townsend, Imputed Knowledge, and Implied Consent Under the Washington Privacy Act, 28 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 209 (2004).