February 15, 2005 5:03 PM PST

Court: Wife broke law with spyware

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A wife who installed spyware on her husband's computer to secretly record evidence of an extramarital affair violated state law, a Florida court ruled Friday.

The Florida Appeals Court, Fifth District said that Beverly Ann O'Brien "illegally obtained" records of husband James' online conversations with another woman as the two played Yahoo Dominoes together.

"It is illegal and punishable as a crime under (state law) to intercept electronic communications," wrote Judge Donald Grincewicz on behalf of a three-judge panel.

He and the two other judges barred Beverly O'Brien from revealing the contents of the intercepted conversations, and said the chat records could not be introduced as evidence in the unhappy couple's divorce proceedings.

The Florida case highlights growing social friction over the use of clandestine electronic monitoring software, which has become more widespread in the last few years. Businesses may monitor employees' e-mail and instant messaging conversations, and the FBI has used a key logger to snare passwords typed in by an alleged mobster. Some Internet-distributed malware programs can log passwords, account numbers and other sensitive information.

At issue in this case was whether the use of the spyware, called Spector, violated Florida's wiretapping law. The law says anyone who "intentionally intercepts" any "electronic communication" commits a criminal act. (The case was a civil lawsuit arising out of the divorce proceeding, not a criminal prosecution.)

Beverly O'Brien's lawyers argued that the monitoring didn't fall under the law's prohibitions and was kin to reading a stored file on her husband's computer--which would not be treated as wiretapping.

But Grincewicz concluded that "because the spyware installed by the wife intercepted the electronic communication contemporaneously with transmission, copied it and routed the copy to a file in the computer's hard drive, the electronic communications were intercepted in violation of the Florida Act."


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law applied wrong
unless im wrong about the technique... she probably used a key logger which did not intercept the message but captured a key stroke... which technically wouldnt break the law... and if its shared property (since their married) i dont see how she isnt allowed to do this as its her property.

and lets face it why the **** are courts being filled with this crap
Posted by volterwd (466 comments )
Reply Link Flag
not just a keystroke logger
I included a link to the Spector application in the article. It's more than just a keystroke logger.
Posted by declan00 (848 comments )
Link Flag
Here is where she made her error
She should have used the program to find them meeting somewhere in public. Then take photographs of them together in public. Had she done that, there would have been no need to mention the program.
I am curious if virtual cheating is considered by the courts the same as real cheating. Seems more like interactive porn rather than out and out cheating but I am sure that is a matter of perspective.
Posted by Buzz_Friendly (74 comments )
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somewhere in public
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.analogstereo.com/honda_odyssey_owners_manual.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.analogstereo.com/honda_odyssey_owners_manual.htm</a>
Posted by Al Johnsons (157 comments )
Link Flag
All I can say is if you put it out there&be prepared for what you read! I put Spector Pro on my now EX-Wifes computer because like all of us we suspect something. Well, sure enough, she was bangin some dude and when I confronted her with it&I got sued for &gt;$70k and ended up setting because I didnt inform the other users that there was monitoring software on the computer. I would love to speak with a high-powered attorney but she tapped me out and I couldnt take the screwing and getting screwed so I rolled over and gave in. I have to agree though, DO NOT tell your partner/spouse/cheater who ever they are that you bugged their computer&its against the law in ALL 50 states and the software manufactures should tell end users that but they want to sell more copies so a hard lesson learned. Use it but dont tell a SOLE! Good luck! ~ BAZ
Posted by RHammerman (4 comments )
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However, you are required by the SpectorSoft license agreement to install eBlaster ONLY on a computer you own and to inform anyone using your computer that monitoring software has been installed. You may also be required by local, state or federal laws to inform anyone who may use your computer that logging software has been installed on your computer.
Posted by LadySleuth (1 comment )
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Long before there were "keyloggers" I simply used a version of Norton Systemworks to recover "deleted" emails from my then-DH to his online lover. Found out they had met in R/L when he supposedly "went to his brother's for SuperBowl Weekend". I'm now happily single and he's in the process of drinking himself to death - alone, with his two little dogs.....Our oldest daughter is expecting her first child - and has publicly stated that "Dad won't be alone with her until she's old enough to fend for herself and/or call for help on her own cell phone....He never used carseats with US, and I can't tell when he's sober or not..."
Posted by FerengiEXwife (1 comment )
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