Ken's Project Blog

December 27, 2010

Read spouse’s emails, face jail time?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ken @ 12:03 pm

A Michigan man is facing “hacking charges” for reading his wife’s emails, in a case many are calling “unprecedented,” according to an article in The Detroit Free Press.

The very shortest way through this story is this: Clara Walker has been married three times. She had a child with her first husband. Her second husband beat her in front of her child. While married to her third husband, Leon Walker, she had an affair with her second husband (the one that beat her). Her third husband used her password, which she kept in a notebook next to her laptop to read her private emails and alerted the first husband that his child might be exposed to violence, since the mother was back with the abusive ex-husband #2. The first husband filed an emergency order for custody hearing, and it came to light that husband #3 had invaded his wife’s privacy. Now, ex-husband #3 is facing criminal charges.

As noted in the article, it is fairly commonplace for spouses to “spy” on their partner to confirm suspicions (an estimated 45%), but this case is unusual for the criminal prosecution involved.

Clara Walker may not have a reasonable “expectation of privacy,” since her husband routinely worked on the computer, and that may undermine her case (along with her habit of leaving her passwords next to the computer)…

From the article, the statue Leon Walker is being prosecuted under:

Michigan statute 752.795, which reads, in part:

“A person shall not intentionally and without authorization or by exceeding valid authorization do any of the following:

“Access or cause access to be made to a computer program, computer, computer system or computer network to acquire, alter, damage delete or destroy property or otherwise use the service of a computer program, computer, computer system or computer network.”

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