33-year-old Rochester Hills, Michigan resident Leon Walker has been charged with a felony after accessing his then-wife’s Gmail account on their shared laptop, which according to Leon, sat next to a notebook containing passwords for quick account access. Clara Walker filed for and was granted a divorce from Leon, her third husband, after he snooped through communications between her and her second husband, revealing an affair. This is the first case in which the statute–which generally applies to trade secret and identity theft crimes–has been cited in a domestic offense.
Clara’s second husband was previously arrested for beating her son and knowing this, Leon passed the emails along to Clara’s first husband and filed for an emergency motion to obtain custody of his child, hoping to protect the boy from the violent husband #2. Clara learned of the privacy violation from her first husband and called police.
Walker is being charged with a felony due to a hacking statute, and the prosecution is pursuing the case as an issue of hacking:
“The guy is a hacker…It was password protected, he had wonderful skills, and was highly trained. Then he downloaded them and used them in a very contentious way.”
Walker, a computer technician, says the laptop was a family computer that he accessed regularly. This claim may affect Clara’s reasonable expectation of privacy–an important point in a case that may determine how the statute at issue is applied in the future. Is copying a password over from a notebook hacking? What about accessing sites for which a browser has saved login information?
Story and image via freep