Electronic surveillance is pervasive these days. Unlike the NSA, however, many snoopers are not targeting the German Chancellor – they are targeting their current or former spouses in the context of their divorce.
The temptation to snoop on a spouse is great when the relationship is acrimonious and contentious. A spouse may be insecure about what may be going on behind his back. Or a spouse might want to collect “evidence” to support a claim that she should get more of the marital property or primary custody of the children.
And snooping is easier than ever these days. No need to wait until someone is not around to sneak in their home office and read their diary. With the latest technological advances, it is possible to conduct electronic surveillance remotely and around-the-clock. GPS tracking devices, tiny “nanny cams,” and audio recorders can all be used to spy on current and former spouses. And where the spouse’s password is known, it can be used to access his or her email, Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter account without authorization.
What’s known as “spyware” is perhaps the most advanced—and the scariest—form of electronic spying. A snooper can trick you into installing the spyware on your laptop, iPad, or mobile device simply by getting you to click on an innocent-looking link or attachment to an email. Once the software is downloaded on your device, it reports back to the snooper with all of the emails you read and write, all of the websites you visit, all of the photographs you take, etc. The spyware can also remotely activate your device’s microphone and webcam to listen to and look at what is going on around you via your device.
While electronic spying is tempting and easier than ever, it may prove to be tremendously problematic. Federal and state laws relating to wiretapping, computer crimes, and stalking are numerous and varied. They often have criminal as well as civil consequences. In addition, the law generally makes evidence acquired illegally by electronic spying inadmissible in court—so snooping on your spouse may be futile in any event.
To avoid landing in jail, being subject to civil fines, or jeopardizing your domestic relations case, it is essential to consult with a competent attorney before snooping on a spouse or ex-spouse.