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Snooping On Spouse's Email In Illinois

Corporate Law Discussions

Snooping On Spouse's Email In Illinois

Postby Jourdaine » Sun Dec 11, 2016 8:37 pm

Hi, Dan... In late 2006, my ex-wife was snooping through my email messages(I'm not sure exactly how she accessed it) and confronted me about some email correspondence I had with a female friend(there was nothing "funny" going on).  There were many other(much worse) issues in our relationship, but this turned out to be the final straw as it were and I filed for divorce, which was finalized last year.  At the beginning of the process, I had asked my lawyer if what she did was legal and he said "yes".  Over the past two years, I've come to believe he was wrong.

My question is - do I have any legal recourse against my ex-wife at this time?... I reside in DuPage County, Illinois...

Any help would be greatly appreciated... BTW, this is one of the most interesting websites on the subject of computer law I have ever been on - thanks and keep up the good work!...

Dave
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Snooping On Spouse's Email In Illinois

Postby Griffeth » Wed Dec 14, 2016 7:50 am

Hi, Dan... In late 2006, my ex-wife was snooping through my email messages(I'm not sure exactly how she accessed it) and confronted me about some email correspondence I had with a female friend(there was nothing "funny" going on).  There were many other(much worse) issues in our relationship, but this turned out to be the final straw as it were and I filed for divorce, which was finalized last year.  At the beginning of the process, I had asked my lawyer if what she did was legal and he said "yes".  Over the past two years, I've come to believe he was wrong.

My question is - do I have any legal recourse against my ex-wife at this time?... I reside in DuPage County, Illinois...

Any help would be greatly appreciated... BTW, this is one of the most interesting websites on the subject of computer law I have ever been on - thanks and keep up the good work!...

Dave
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Snooping On Spouse's Email In Illinois

Postby Blanco » Thu Dec 15, 2016 9:53 am

Dave, unfortunately this is not a black and white issue.  The crux of it comes down whether you had an expectation of privacy for your email correspondence.

Although most states recognize four branches of the invasion of privacy,  the only one relevant here is the unreasonable intrusion upon the seclusion of another.

Although uncertainty exists as to whether the tort of unreasonable intrusion upon the seclusion of another is viable in Illinois, it probably does exist. Karraker v. Rent-A-Center, Inc., 239 F. Supp. 2d 828(C.D. Ill. 2003)(acknowledging that the Illinois Supreme Court would probably recognize it after stating that "Illinois courts are in conflict about whether to recognize the tort").

The four elements of intrusion upon seclusion are:(1) an unauthorized intrusion or prying,(2) the intrusion was offensive or objectionable to a reasonable person,(3) the matter was private, and(4) the intrusion caused suffering. Morris v. Ameritech Illinois, 271 Ill. Dec. 411, 785 N.E. 2d 62, 337 Ill. App. 3d 40(Ill. App. 1 Dist. 2003).

In New Jersey, a court held that the wife’s accessing the “private” email communications of the husband did not constitute an invasion of privacy, since the husband had no objective reasonable expectation thereof. The evidence showed that the emails were accessed from a computer maintained in a sunroom that the husband had been occupying during the parties’ in-house separation; that the wife and the parties’ three children were in and out of the room for various reasons, including the use of the computer; and that, while easy to do, the husband failed to employ any privacy protection mechanisms to prevent unwarranted intrusions into his personal files. The court also found that the wife’s arguable snooping into her husband’s personal information to learn about his possible affair was not uncommon under the circumstances.

I have not seen an IL court rule on this point, but this should give you something to think about.
Blanco
 
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