Hacking Statute Could Jail Man for Reading Wife’s Email

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According to Michigan prosecutors, reading your cheating wife’s email is the same thing as hacking into the Pentagon.

A man from Rochester Hills, Michigan faces up to 5 years in prison because a state prosecutor says he violated a statute designed to outlaw the activities of hackers. Her interpretation of the law could be a bit loose, as the man simply used his wife’s email password to uncover an affair.

Leon Walker became suspicious that his wife was cheating on him with her abusive second husband, and that she was bringing her child from her first husband along. To confirm his suspicions, he read his wife’s email through a family computer using a password she kept in a nearby book. When he discovered the affair, Walker printed out some of her emails and provided them to the woman’s first husband so that he could file for custody of the child. Walker was arrested in February 2009 after his wife found out what he did.

Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper calls Walker a “highly-trained hacker,” perhaps displaying a misunderstanding of his actions. Walker is being tried for violating Michigan statute 752.795, which partially reads: “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.”

Walker’s attorney says that the statute was created to protect against identity theft, to guard government information, and to protect trade secrets, not to stop a husband from exposing an affair by using a password that was within arm’s reach, and to protect a child from abuse no less. He wonders: “Don’t the prosecutors have more important things to do with their time?”

According to the Detroit Free Press, defense attorneys in the area are surprised by the charges, specifically comparing it to parents looking into kids’ Facebook accounts. The slope is very slippery here if Walker is convicted, but the outcome of his case is unsure, because this is the first time the statute has been invoked for a domestic case. We can only hope that a jury doesn’t send Walker to jail for acting just like he should to expose his now ex-wife’s negligence of him, and her very own child.

Source: Detroit Free Press

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