Part II: Spying on Your Boyfriend May Be Illegal

Single and fabulous? Well then this is the column for you!

Ever wish you had your own personal Carrie Bradshaw to answer your questions — not just about what to do if your boyfriend dumps you via text message — but serious issues that confront us? This special daily edition of “Lis on Law” will address topics that single women are faced with and that everybody wonders about — but no one has time to figure out.

Between work, working out, dating and maintaining a social life, it’s tough to find time to do much else. So, read up and prepare to be fully armed for brunch this weekend with your friends with some super conversation topics! Your pals will be amazed!

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PART II: Tempted to read your boyfriend's (or spouse's) e-mail because you suspect him of cheating? Consider the possibility that you could be breaking the law.

Yesterday, we discussed possible ramifications of spying on your loved one. Picking up where we left off, I want to enumerate the requirements needed to make a case for invasion of privacy. To satisfy this charge, your boyfriend or husband must prove an "intentional intrusion ... physical or otherwise…if the intrusion would be highly offensive to a reasonable person." But, the key element in prosecuting an action under this tort becomes whether the person (the spyee, if you will) has a reasonable expectation of privacy. More and more, judges nation wide are finding that no "reasonable expectation of privacy" exists — especially in cases where the couple lives together.

A court in New Jersey reviewed a case on whether a spouse assessing e-mails of her significant other on a home computer violated the New Jersey wiretap law (state version of the ECPA). The court held that no reasonable expectation of privacy existed. I guess that's part of the deal when you live with someone — your privacy expectations diminish. What's mine is yours and what's yours is mine, right? This holding would also likely apply to non-cohabitating couples if you often share space. However, I say this with a caveat — if your partner goes to great lengths to protect his email with password encryptions, the case for invasion of privacy becomes stronger.

If you have been snooping around, you may sleep easier knowing that your chances of criminal sanctions are low, but step back and consider how your partner would react knowing you're watching his every move. If you're concerned about his possible infidelity, I'd say it's better to talk to him than eventually confronting him after sifting through his personal emails. At least you maintain some level of respect. And if that's not enough to stop you, consider this: what's good for the goose is good for the gander. Next time, someone may be spying on you!


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Lis Wiehl joined FOX News Channel as a legal analyst in October 2001. She is currently a professor of law at the New York Law School. Wiehl received her undergraduate degree from Barnard College in 1983 and received her Master of Arts in Literature from the University of Queensland in 1985.In addition, she earned her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1987.

Lis is also the author of The 51% Minority — How Women Still Are Not Equal and What You Can Do About It . ( Watch the Video ) and Winning Every Time: How to Use the Skills of a Lawyer in the Trials of Your Life

To read the rest of Lis's bio, click here.