Often, when someone suspects their spouse of infidelity, they attempt to hack into their email account to confirm their suspicions. While this seems tempting, it is likely illegal and can lead to serious consequences. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, The North Carolina Electronic Surveillance Act, and N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-287 all protect against spousal spying and unauthorized access of email and stored communications.
Of key importance, the access must be unauthorized. Spouses often give their passwords to each other, or don’t protect their email accounts on joint computers, so that they may access important documents and other communications for each other. Giving your spouse permission to access your email for these purposes is legal and acceptable. If a spouse, however, exceeds the permission you have provided them, and accesses your email account beyond the scope of your permission, they may have violated the law, and the stored communications may be protected.
Even if access is unauthorized, the electronic communications that your spouse has accessed must likely be held in electronic storage for the law to protect you. An email that is stored on a computer’s hard drive, for example, may not have the same protections as an email that is saved in your Internet Service Provider’s account such as Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail. Emails that are stored in your Internet Service Provider account are considered electronic storage and are protected against unauthorized access.
If your spouse has hacked into your email account and retrieved stored communications without permission, you may have an action against them for invasion of privacy. If you wish to discuss spousal spying or potential invasion of privacy claims, contact Adkins Law to arrange a consultation.