Once upon a time, it was common to answer the door not knowing who was on the other side or to pick up the phone wondering who was on the other line. In today’s digital age, it is unheard of to receive a call without caller ID. It is also becoming possible to answer your door without opening it with home video surveillance systems (such as Ring, Vizant and Nest) that offer not only cameras and alarms to homeowners but also the ability to see and speak to visitors via wireless technology without ever answering the door or even without ever being home. These technological advances offer many benefits to society but how will these products impact process serving?
This new technology does present some challenges for process servers – first and foremost a challenge that is centered around the language of the law. Current laws imply that service should take place via a face-to-face interaction. Law does not include current provisions for wireless transmission service or video interaction. But what if the voice on the other side of the speaker instructs the process server to leave the documents for her? Would this service be upheld in court?
Another complication that may arise for some process servers is that recipients now have an extra warning when a process server shows up on their doorstep, enabling the individual to hide, obscuring their whereabouts so process servers are unable to evade service with success. The element of surprise is what often makes service of process successful so is this new-fangled modern technology taking that away from us?
Of course, there are benefits of doorbell service as well. For example, if an individual is prone to becoming hostile over service of process, they will know ahead of time who is at the door and can opt to not answer, thus preventing injury to a server.
Doorbells may also help to expedite service. If a person receiving papers is not home when a process server shows up at his doorstep, he can instruct the server where he is so service can be effectuated quickly, thus reducing the amount of time it takes to get papers served.
Technology is ever-changing and it is important that process servers and individuals requesting service of process be aware of the changes among us in today’s digital era.