Leon Walker, a 34-year-old man from Rochester Hills, Michigan made international headlines in 2010 for reading his now ex-wife’s email. Mr. Walker was charged with computer hacking, which is a five-year felony under the state’s computer hacking law.
This case sparked numerous national headlines due to the rise in social media. The question becomes: is it or isn’t it okay to read your spouse’s email, Twitter or Facebook accounts?
The Background of Tangled Webs
What lead Leon Walker to read his now ex-wife’s email? Mr. Walker was questioning his wife’s fidelity. He logged into to Clara Walker’s email after finding her password in a book next to the computer. After searching through her inbox, Mr. Walker found what he had been looking for, proof that she had been cheating.
Mr. Walker was Clara’s third husband. The man she was cheating on him with was Clara’s second husband. According to the Boston Herald, the second husband had been arrested after beating Clara Walker in front of her child from her first marriage. Leon Walker reports feeling the need to act and protect the child from her first marriage, but also the child they had together.
“When I read the email I thought this is disturbing,” he said. “I went to the first husband, and I said you have to act. The evidence showed that she was exposing this child to this man again.” –Leon Walker, Boston Herald
Privacy Between Husband and Wife
How will this case affect privacy laws? Abc.com reported:
“While Walker’s case is a first for Michigan, it is not the first time the privacy between a husband and wife has become a matter for the courts. Some legal analysts say federal privacy laws can be understood to mean that even with a shared computer, password protected e-mail accounts are private, unless one of the parties allows access.”
However, before this case could set the trend in the battle for privacy between husband and wife, it was discovered that Mrs. Walker had been reading Mr. Walker’s text messages in 2009 (while they were still married). Once that information came to light, the charges were quickly dropped.
What do you think? Is it lawful for one spouse to read another spouse’s email or text messages? What about Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest? We would love to hear your thoughts.