Never Admit, “Honey, I read your mail…”
Sometimes the uses and abuses of technology are a challenge to morals and values. I just found out that marriage does not void your right to privacy.
According to ABC News/Technology, a Michigan man who suspected his wife of infidelity can get up to five years in prison for reading his wife’s e-mail. Using his daughter as an excuse (the affair would affect her negatively), Leon Walker labels the charges “outrageous.”
Federal law guards the rights of privacy for password-protected e-mail accounts, as well as for regular old snail mail. You are perfectly free to read someone else’s e-mail (or USPS mail) if that person gives you permission. (Apparently “I do” isn’t enough. It’s probably best to get written permission.)
I don’t read my husband's e-mail, and he doesn’t read mine—even when I forward it to him. I have to confess, though, that I may (or may not) be in violation of federal law. While I don’t make it a practice of reading mail--mine or anyone else’s—I will open anything that remotely resembles a check. Often FCE (husband) will ask me why I didn’t open a piece of mail, and I’ll respond that it was addressed to him. He then tells me I could’ve opened it. Is that blanket permission to open mail?
Are separate permissions required for e-mail and snail mail, or can a blanket “I have no secrets” suffice? What about reading over someone’s shoulder? In that scenario, one isn’t “hacking.” It’s more like eavesdropping, which is sort of legal in most places.
There is something hilariously funny about being sent to prison for reading e-mails on a computer one shares with another person. It’s not too hilariously funny for the person who faces those charges, though.
I’m all for the government guarding rights to privacy, but find it somewhat hypocritical considering the amount of information-gathering in which it engages. While anti-hacking laws are supremely appropriate, should they be applied to what goes on in one’s own home?
In the meantime, I’m going to make sure FCE hears about this new development. After all, I don’t want him mucking around in my e-mail and discovering that in the past few weeks I have won 100,000; 750,000; and a million pounds repeatedly. I’m sure he’d be happier if I’d just lose ten, anyway.