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View Poll Results: Who's the biggest loser here?
Soon-to-be ex #3. Boy, it's hard being a good guy. 2 18.18%
The soon-to-be ex-wife. Waste of oxygen. 2 18.18%
The prosecutor. What's the number for dial-a-clue? 1 9.09%
The kids. Why do they have to get stuck with this kind of crap? 2 18.18%
Taxpayers. You realize you're paying for this, right? 5 45.45%
Someone else. Your poll missed an important loser. 1 9.09%
No one. This is awesome. Pass the popcorn 0 0%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 11. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 12-28-2010, 11:05 AM   #1
Bungleau
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Join Date: October 29, 2001
Location: Western Wilds of Michigan
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Shocked Reading your spouse's email?

Full story here.

Quote:

Is reading wife's e-mail a crime? Rochester Hills man faces trial


A Rochester Hills man faces up to 5 years in prison -- for reading his wife's e-mail.

Oakland County prosecutors, relying on a Michigan statute typically used to prosecute crimes such as identity theft or stealing trade secrets, have charged Leon Walker, 33, with a felony after he logged onto a laptop in the home he shared with his wife, Clara Walker.

Using her password, he accessed her Gmail account and learned she was having an affair. He now is facing a Feb. 7 trial. She filed for divorce, which was finalized earlier this month.

Legal experts say it's the first time the statute has been used in a domestic case, and it might be hard to prove

"It's going to be interesting because there are no clear legal answers here," said Frederick Lane, a Vermont attorney and nationally recognized expert who has published five books on electronic privacy. The fact that the two still were living together, and that Leon Walker had routine access to the computer, may 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.

About 45% of divorce cases involve some snooping -- and gathering -- of e-mail, Facebook and other online material, Lane said. But he added that those are generally used by the warring parties for civil reasons -- not for criminal prosecution.
What do you think?

"It is an indication of how deeply electronic communication is woven into our lives," Lane said.

Leon Walker was Clara Walker's third husband. Her e-mail showed she was having an affair with her second husband, a man who once had been arrested for beating her in front of her small son. Leon Walker, worried that the child might be exposed to domestic violence again, handed the e-mails over to the child's father, Clara Walker's first husband. He promptly filed an emergency motion to obtain custody.

Leon Walker, a computer technician with Oakland County, was arrested in February 2009, after Clara Walker learned he had provided the e-mails to her first husband.

"I was doing what I had to do," Leon Walker told the Free Press in a recent interview. He has been out on bond since shortly after his arrest. "We're talking about putting a child in danger."

Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper defended 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."

Walker's defense attorney, Leon Weiss, said Cooper is "dead wrong" on the law.

"I've been a defense attorney for 34 years and I've never seen anything like this," he said. "This is a hacking statute, the kind of statute they use if you try to break into a government system or private business for some nefarious purpose. It's to protect against identity fraud, to keep somebody from taking somebody's intellectual property or trade secrets.

"I have to ask: 'Don't the prosecutors have more important things to do with their time?' "

Clara Walker, through her attorney, Michael McCulloch, declined an interview with the Free Press.

In the preliminary exam, Clara Walker testified that although Leon Walker had purchased the laptop for her, it was hers alone and she kept the password a secret.

Leon Walker told the Free Press he routinely used the computer and that she kept all of her passwords in a small book next to the computer.

"It was a family computer," he said. "I did work on it all the time."

A jury ultimately will decide.

Several area defense attorneys were astonished by the filing of the criminal charges.

"What's the difference between that and parents who get on their kids' Facebook accounts?" attorney Deborah McKelvy said. "You're going to have to start prosecuting a whole bunch of parents."

Contact L. L. Brasier: 248-858-2262 or lbrasier@freepress.com
Two issues, in my mind...

First, the clueless prosecutor. "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."

I'm sorry... in no way does reading someone's email make you some kind of 1337 haxx0r. (I probably can't even spell that right ) Especially when the passwords are in a book next to the computer. It does mark the prosecutor as being slightly more knowledgeable about computers than my dog. Maybe.

Second, the issue of legality. I'd have to read the actual law to get my own sense of it, but I don't think legislators were targeting families when they wrote it. By the same token, parents can't access their children's email/facebook/gmail/etc accounts without permission (something which, BTW, the State of Michigan tells all parents that they should be doing with their children's accounts). I feel there's a big difference between accessing someone's email and penetrating their system.

Thoughts?
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Old 12-28-2010, 11:16 AM   #2
SpiritWarrior
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Default Re: Reading your spouse's email?

It won't come to anything. No different than reading someone's diary, or their email from the family computer. Once she shares a space with somebody who she is in a relationship with, all bets are off. While this would be different if he accessed her email if she did not live there.

If I give out passwords to people I am on the fence about, I quickly change them afterwards. And, I would be considered negligent if I kept all my PW's in a little book left lying around the home - like she did. You better trust someone you live with to respect your privacy if that's what you want. Some people allow their spouses access to emails, mssgs, facebook - everything.

By the same token, not just facebooks accounts, but phones and text mssgs etc. I'd leave it as a "domestic". You know, when couples call the police about domestic affairs and they calm the people down but don't do anything.
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Old 12-28-2010, 11:32 AM   #3
Bungleau
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Default Re: Reading your spouse's email?

I've come across the two Michigan statutes:

Quote:
FRAUDULENT ACCESS TO COMPUTERS, COMPUTER SYSTEMS, AND COMPUTER NETWORKS (EXCERPT)
Act 53 of 1979


752.794 Prohibited access to computer program, computer, computer system, or computer network.

Sec. 4.

A person shall not intentionally access or cause access to be made to a computer program, computer, computer system, or computer network to devise or execute a scheme or artifice with the intent to defraud or to obtain money, property, or a service by a false or fraudulent pretense, representation, or promise.
Quote:
FRAUDULENT ACCESS TO COMPUTERS, COMPUTER SYSTEMS, AND COMPUTER NETWORKS (EXCERPT)
Act 53 of 1979


752.795 Prohibited conduct.

Sec. 5.

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

(a) 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.

(b) Insert or attach or knowingly create the opportunity for an unknowing and unwanted insertion or attachment of a set of instructions or a computer program into a computer program, computer, computer system, or computer network, that is intended to acquire, alter, damage, delete, disrupt, or destroy property or otherwise use the services of a computer program, computer, computer system, or computer network. This subdivision does not prohibit conduct protected under section 5 of article I of the state constitution of 1963 or under the first amendment of the constitution of the United States.
Ignoring the fact that those were written in 1979 (two years before the first PC), I don't see where his actions fall under them.

With luck, this will be laughed out of court. With more luck, the prosecutor will be reprimanded, or at least voted out of office in the next election.

Sadly, I worry that it won't.
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Old 12-28-2010, 12:20 PM   #4
Timber Loftis
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Default Re: Reading your spouse's email?

I would guess that the wife, Clara, filed charges, which kinda forces the prosecutors to pursue the matter. I think it's a loser frankly, and if it's not, then we are all going to lose out in the end.

Clara was outplayed, and when she cuckolded her husband, he reacted by taking her child away. Game, set, match.... or not... Clara sought extra innings in the game by filing charges.
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Old 12-28-2010, 05:44 PM   #5
Bungleau
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Default Re: Reading your spouse's email?

Thanks for the unofficial professional perspective, TL. I don't know that it means much, but apparently this county's prosecutor's office has a bit of a history of filing unreasonable charges against people. Some claim it's in the pursuit of name recognition for the next elections...
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Old 12-29-2010, 12:10 AM   #6
Larry_OHF
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Default Re: Reading your spouse's email?

I hope I can adequately relate this to the theme here. When I took a computer crime class, I learned that if a suspect refuses the police from accessing password protected areas of a computer, the police can simply ask the spouse or homeowner for this access and it be granted. The computer where the crime was committed is in the home of both people and even passwords do not prevent a spouse from having legal ownership and authority.
In another view of that same argument, any website accessed from a company computer can be retrieved and examined by the owner of that computer (the company) and all passwords are null and void. There is no privacy. It was done on property that did not belong to that individual so that makes anything done on it accessible by the management of the company. In fact, my professor said he'd been hired numerous times to go into an office after-hours and access a certain computer and snoop around to see what could be found and of course he brought along hacking tools to gain access to anything he needed to and it was the company's legal right to allow this. He said he had helped get fired many people and more than once have somebody arrested when it got into actual crime jurisdiction (at that point of snooping, you have to immediately stop where you're at and call the police and then inform the company management that from this point on, you are no longer able to proceed with anything until the proper legal authorities grant permission to proceed or they send in their own guy).
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Old 01-01-2011, 08:03 PM   #7
Cloudbringer
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Default Re: Reading your spouse's email?

Saw this on the news last week. My husband and I have access to each other's emails and share one as well. Not sure how this case will come out but I tend to think you're on the mark TL.
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