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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Is Reading your Spouse's Email a CRIME?

Michigan man could go to jail for reading his wife's e-mail
By Hayley Tsukayama
A Michigan man faces five years in prison for reading his wife's e-mail, under a state law intended to prevent identity fraud. As the Detroit Free Press reports, computer technician Leon Walker accessed his wife's Gmail account on a laptop in their home. From her e-mail messages, he learned she was having an affair with her ex-husband -- a man previously arrested for domestic violence. Walker then filed for emergency custody of his wife's young son.

Walker's soon-to-be ex-wife testified that the laptop her husband used to access the e-mail account was a private laptop, and that she was the only one who knew the password.

Leon Walker, on the other hand, said the laptop was a family computer and that his wife kept all her passwords in a little book next to the computer.

The legal question at heart here is whether or not Walker's wife had an expectation of privacy.

Frederick Lane, a Vermont lawyer and electronic privacy expert, told the Free Press that the fact that the two still were living together, and that Leon Walker had routine access to the computer, might help him, Lane said.

"I would guess there is enough gray area to suggest that she could not have an absolute expectation of privacy," he said.

Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper told the Free Press she defends her decision to charge Leon Walker.

"The guy is a hacker," Cooper said in a voice mail response to the Free Press last week. "It was password protected, he had wonderful skills, and was highly trained. Then he downloaded them and used them in a very contentious way."

Other lawyers in the Detroit area told the Free Press that this application of the law was ludicrous. One told the paper that if this case is applicable under the law, the state would also have to prosecute parents monitoring their children's Facebook accounts.
By Hayley Tsukayama December 27, 2010; 10:38 AM ET
Categories: Digital culture, E-mail, Policy and politics, Privacy
Note by Kelly Chang Rickert: Though it may or may not be a crime, if you are in the midst of divorce proceedings, it would be wise to keep your emails/facebook/social network stuff private. Please see my article with tips for preparing for a divorce.

1 comment:

Elison Duncan said...

Internet surfing is one type of happen crime. Michigan have no any idea to happen that much. So Internet Password is build strong with numeric, symbol, character and sign also.

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