Is Snooping In Your Spouse’s Email a Crime?

Breaking a promise is not illegal; neither is violating the trust of a loved one — at least in the normal, everyday ways that we lie and cheat one another in our private lives. And this is certainly a good thing: the law is not intended to enforce morality but to provide for the public good, and to use the law to regulate, moderate, and enforce good faith and respect in our personal matters would certainly make our lives worse, even if it did provide legal remedy against lying, cheating jerks.Leon Walker’s invasion of his wife’s privacy through accessing her email was not what the Michigan legislature had in mind when drafting their anti-hacking statute. Or, at least, if it was what they had in mind, the Michigan legislature was clearly in the wrong. This kind of law serves an appropriate and valuable function when it prevents or punishes those who would intentionally defraud or defame others out of malice or personal gain. But what Walker did was the contemporary equivalent of searching the bottom of the underwear drawer for letters from a secret paramour — a far more personal and less clear-cut circumstance. What she did was clearly wrong. What he did might also be wrong, although his concern for his child seems to justify it. But even if he had no justification other than curiosity or a personal desire to know, getting the state involved in this kind of way is also clearly wrong — this should be at most a civil matter, not a criminal one.To read this Wall Street Journal article in full, see: see:Should it be a crime to read your spouse’s e-mail? by John Levine
… Reading one’s spouse’s mail without permission may be tacky, but there are a lot of things that are tacky that are not and should not be illegal. (Where are the libertarians telling the government to stay out of our bedrooms?) Since this case appears to include plausible charges of child abuse, I have to wonder why the proscutor is wasting time with this very marginal case.Also, the prosecutor, Jessica Cooper, has a history of being extremely aggressive, notably a case earlier this year where she charged a woman with murdering her husband, before the medical examiner finished examining the body and decided that the death was accidental.

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