Husband’s email snooping may lead to prison time

A Michigan man who checked his wife's e-mail for signs of infidelity is being prosecuted under a statute aimed at hackers.

If you've ever had the urge to check someone else's email, then you've got something in common with Leon Walker, a 33-year-old computer technician from Rochester Hills, Michigan. But be warned, it may lead to prison time.

Walker suspected his wife of cheating, so he flipped through the book of passwords she conveniently kept next to the family's shared laptop, logged into her Gmail account and confirmed his suspicions. Now Oakland County prosecutors are charging him with felony computer misuse -- a charge usually reserved for identity thieves, hackers and trade secret embezzlers. He faces five years in prison.

Prosecutor Jessica Cooper believes Walker's credentials as a trained computer technician make him a threat. "The guy is a hacker. [The computer] was password protected, he had wonderful skills, and was highly trained. Then he downloaded them and used them in a very contentious way," Cooper told the Detroit Free Press.

Walker is being charged with Michigan statute 752.795, which reads, in part: "A person shall not intentionally and without authorization or by exceeding valid authorization do any of the following: Access or cause access to be made to a computer program, computer, computer system or computer network to acquire, alter, damage delete or destroy property or otherwise use the service of a computer program, computer, computer system or computer network."

Though most would agree that reading someone else's e-mail -- whether in a relationship or on a shared computer or not -- is a big no-no, the charges themselves will be difficult to prove, especially since the statute is aimed toward hackers, not Gmail Peeping Toms.

"The word 'e-mail' does not appear in this statute. This is an anti-hacking statute. It does not, in any way, shape or form, encompass reading somebody's e-mail," defense attorney Leon Weiss told ABC News.

Add to the mix the fact that Walker's wife, Clara, was allegedly having an affair with her second ex-husband, who had been arrested earlier for beating her in front of her young son, who was born from her first husband. Walker was concerned about continued abuse, so he handed the e-mails over to his wife's first husband and filed an emergency motion to obtain custody.

"I was doing what I had to do," Walker told the Free Press. "We're talking about putting a child in danger."

The trial starts February 7, 2011.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags email

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Brennon Slattery

PC World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?