Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

High Tech has added an arsenal of technical gear to spy on a spouse suspected of adultery, from GPS tracking of cars and cell phones to video recording and computer spyware. These advances in technology bring up the important issue of the legality and advisability of such spying.

While it may be tempting to use such techniques, or even something as apparently innocuous as logging onto a spouse’s computer to review their Internet history, there are serious legal ramifications since such activity is, generally, illegal in itself. According to Federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 1030, it is a crime to access someone’s computer without authorization, and that includes spouses and children over 18 years of age (parents do have the right to access their underaged children’s computers). Since cell phones are effectively small computers, the law can be extended to include accessing the history of someone’s phone calls, although that is not expressly defined. While this has not been interpreted by Massachusetts court in a divorce setting, the Federal law takes precedence, and someone who spies on a spouse in this manner is violating the law.

Another new technology, GPS tracking, can be used to place a tracker on a spouse’s care, but this may be considered stalking, and in Massachusetts following another person three or more times can be considered stalking. Other states have implemented laws regarding stalking via GPS tracking, and Massachusetts may follow suit.

Massachusetts law defines a right of privacy, defined in G.L. c.214 § 1B. Although the right is privacy is enforced through civil, nto criminal, proceedings, it nonetheless should give one pause before spying on a spouse. Indeed, judges do not want to reward illegal activity of any kind, and such spying may backfire on the spy rather than the one spied upon, denying the admission of any evidence found by illegal surveillance.

Previously we looked at Facebook and Divorce, but there are many other means of connecting via high tech and the Internet today which should be considered as well. Sexting, tweeting, YouTube, Tumblr, and many other channels exist which an aggrieved spouse can exploit to hurt his or her ex or soon-to-be ex. For example, a spouse can post a defamatory video on YouTube, perhaps sharing secretly filmed clips of their partner or tirades where they launch into a litany of grievances, imagined or real. Even if these videos are flagged and pulled down by YouTube, the harm has already been done.

Twitter is an instantaneous means of sharing brief, potentially harmful comments about one’s spouse with whoever follows either the poster or a hashtag such as #divorce or #marriage or #myevilspouse (yes, that’s for real). Again, the harm is shared instantly with the world at large, and therefore can reach the spouse’s friends, family, or employment.

Sexting is another potentially hurtful venue. Sexting is defined as “the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photographs between mobile phones.” This is rampant amongst the younger generation, as 30% or more of people between 18 and 25 have exchanged naked photos. Once sexted, these photos can easily be uploaded to photo sharing sites such as Tumblr or online forums, and once this happens, it is impossible to remove the photos from the Internet as they may have been shared too many times on too many venues. Such photos can be used to inflict harm on a spouse, whether by being found by an employer doing an online search for that person, by children of the spouse who become distressed upon seeing the photos, or by any number of other people in the spouse’s life.

If you have sexted naked photos with your partner, or otherwise know of such sharing through other electronic means, you should discuss this with an experienced divorce attorney, who can assist you by filing an ex-parte motion to restrain the online distribution, posting, transferring by any means, or reproducing such videos or photos.

We all know how rapidly technology, especially social media, is growing in today’s society. Everyone it seems is on Facebook, and one must protect one’s identity on Facebook in the face (no pun intended) of being “tagged” in a photo one would rather disappear, have new relationships “put on parade,” or have one’s secrets put on public display in any number of ways. This extends as well to divorce, which is also going high tech today. Spouses who would never dare to tell their soon-to-be-divorced spouse about new personal relationships, travel and their new personal lives are posting such information–often in great detail, accompanied by photos and comments from innumerable “friends”–all over web and particularly on Facebook.

Don’t assume that just because you’ve blocked your spouse they won’t be able to access this information, read the comments, and see the photos. Frequently, one of the first things divorce attorneys are advising their clients to do is to examine the Facebook pages of their spouses and their “friends” in order to gather information that will be useful in divorce proceedings. And it doesn’t stop at Facebook: one must consider all social media that one’s spouse engages in, including Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, LinkedIn, and more. With so many ways to interact online today, one must be careful indeed.

The information contained in this blog is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. The use of this Blog does not create an attorney/client relationship between you and the Law Offices of Barry R. Lewis. If you are considering divorce or if you are involved in any legal matter, you should hire an attorney.

Massachusetts Divorce and Family Law
Attorney Barry R. Lewis — Divorce Law Specialist
Locations Throughout Eastern & Central Massachusetts :: 508-879-3262