June 16, 2006 4:00 AM PDT

Police blotter: Husband spies on wife's computer

"Police blotter" is a weekly CNET News.com report on the intersection of technology and the law.

What: Reports of home computer wiretapping surface in tempestuous New Jersey divorce case.

When: Superior Court of New Jersey ruled June 8.

Outcome: Wife succeeds in raising her share of the settlement in a divorce case.

What happened, according to court documents:

Peter Garfinkel, 41, asked for a divorce from his wife of six years, Lori Garfinkel, 38, in March 2001. They had separated earlier that month, and Lori remained in the marital home with three children under 3 years old.

After her husband started court proceedings for a divorce, Lori Garfinkel filed a counterclaim alleging the following: transmission of sexual disease, negligent infliction of emotional distress, intentional infliction of emotional distress and wiretapping.

The wiretapping charges are what make this unfortunate case relevant to Police Blotter. During the trial in state court, the judge dismissed Lori's claims related to sexual disease and emotional distress. But Peter admitted to "wiretapping" Lori's computer.

The description is general: Peter used an unspecified monitoring device to track his wife's computer transactions and record her e-mails. Lori was granted $7,500 on the wiretapping claim.

Overall, though, the trial judge did not find her credible and ruled that she misrepresented her income, assets and expenses. Lori appealed.

A three-judge panel of the Superior Court of New Jersey appeared to side with her. The judges reduced the amount granted to Peter and handed the case back to the trial court for additional proceedings.

This is hardly the first time computer monitoring claims have surfaced in marital spats. As previously reported by CNET News.com, a Florida court ruled last year that a wife who installed spyware on her husband's computer to secretly record evidence of an extramarital affair violated state law.

In addition, makers of key loggers (hardware or software methods of recording keystrokes) are actively marketing their products as ways to expose spousal wrongdoing. KeyGhost's Web site mentions "multimillion-dollar divorce settlements," and the description of BlazingTools Sofware's Perfect Keylogger includes this line: "Are you wondering if your mate is planning a divorce?"

See more CNET content tagged:
Police Blotter, distress, divorce, New Jersey, wife


Join the conversation!
Add your comment
Doing it Legal
It would seem to me that anyone concerned about being accused of wiretapping should go through the simple process of creating thier own company ($50-100 in most states)and having their home computer be an asset of the company. As an example create a personal investment company for buying and selling stock. Then anytime someone uses the computer they are using the company computer. And as we all know, company's have consistently won the right to snoop into whatever is being conducted on their equipment.
Posted by CLK3RD (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Spying Tools
Found some Spying Tools..... <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.glass.in/spying_tools.cfm" target="_newWindow">http://www.glass.in/spying_tools.cfm</a>
Posted by 206538395198018178908092208948 (141 comments )
Link Flag
Private Investigator
Hire a Private Investigator
Posted by Blito (436 comments )
Link Flag
The courts have held that there is a resonalbe excpectation of provacy within a marriage and that one spouse can keep protected areas of a computer secret.

If there is a some evidence that one spouse is hiding certain things in a divorce(asests, actions that would prove fault) then access to those things can be gained through the discovery process.
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
Computer WireTapping
This is probably happening more than people think. Check out <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.pctattletale.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.pctattletale.com</a>. This is very easy to do nowadays.

- Bryan
Posted by bfleming98 (31 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Protecting The Sanctity Of The Armoire Sock Drawer
Hum-mm-m? Ignoring the alleged transmission of sexual disease dismissed by the court, more data is needed to understand the implications of this intersection of technology and the law on information transmission in the marital home.

What might an unspecified monitoring device be? Is the device. hardware, software or combination of both. Was the device installed external or internal to the computer and/or telecommunication transmission lines, inside or outside the marital home?

Since Pat Act I &#38; II gives the FBI, NSA, DHS, IRS, INS and assorted members of the Inside-The-Beltway Bureaucratic Brotherhood license to electronically snoop on and monitor everyones personal communications in pursuit of terrorists, Mr. Garfinkel, Mrs. Garfinkels husband, should be free to do so as well.

The government says, Only those who have something to hide, should object to surreptitious electronic monitoring. If Mrs. Garfinkel HAS NOTHING TO HIDE, why would she care? Maybe Mr. Garfinkel, as a concerned husband, was only trying to track down the bio-terrorist that infected Mrs. Garfinkel with the STDs that caused her emotional distress.

This article has caused me to ponder this question. Does passage of the Patriot Act mean the sanctity and privacy of the top sock drawer in my armoire is no longer protected?
Posted by Catgic (106 comments )
Reply Link Flag
re: Sock Drawer
"Maybe Mr. Garfinkel, as a concerned husband, was only trying to track down the bio-terrorist that infected Mrs. Garfinkel with the STDs that caused her emotional distress."

I love it! Thanks for a good laugh! :)
Posted by J_Satch (571 comments )
Link Flag
Armoire protection?
&gt;Does passage of the Patriot Act mean the sanctity and privacy of the top sock drawer in my armoire is no longer protected?&lt;

Well, they DID just sign into LAW that police no longer have to knock a warning before entering your house with a warrant!

So, NO, your top sock drawer in my armoire is no longer protected!
Posted by btljooz (401 comments )
Link Flag
Right to know?
It seem to me if it's your computer you have the right to put any software you buy on it and every keystroke(information) on it is your property.
Posted by dmiv4 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree... My ex wife was having several affairs, and I caught her thanks to a keylogger. It never came up in the divorce proceedings, but it was my computer she was using...
Posted by bbroeman30 (14 comments )
Link Flag
If you have a trusting relationship, you should have any qualms about your spouse "discovering" what's on your machine. Overall though, your relationship should be strong enough to not be tempted by cheating in any realm cyber or reality <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.iwantmyess.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.iwantmyess.com/</a>

This discovering a cheat digitally is how we've to this messy Heather Locklear, Richie Sambora, Denise Richards triangle <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.iwantmyess.com/?p=50" target="_newWindow">http://www.iwantmyess.com/?p=50</a>
Posted by marileev (292 comments )
Link Flag
Remember the days when you were having problems at home, you stopped what you were doing and started talking to your spouse and you didn't stop talking until you ironed out what the problem was and found a suitable solution. Now, when there's a problem, no one wants to talk about it, they just spy on each other, gathering information so they can get a divorce and get more than half of the martial assets. What a world we live in.
Posted by thedreaming (573 comments )
Reply Link Flag
THAT'S the one deserving the "AMEN"!!!
Posted by btljooz (401 comments )
Link Flag
What kind of world?
We live in a world that is run by an awful government. The sad
truth is, we keep asking for more of it, even in the face of their
utter incompetence.
Posted by rbannon (96 comments )
Link Flag
This is another situation where its a catch-22. On the topic of the story, here's the bottom line:

He spies on her, he violated her privacy, thus he has to pay.

But what about the cases of the past where SHE spies on HIM and the courts ruled that it was NOT a violation of HIS privacy since they lived in the same household?

Double-standards abound...

It's just another clear sign of bias in the system where Divorce is concerned: She is presumed innocent until you prove her guilty, but you are presumed guilty until you prove your innocence. And the system promotes that, and this story is a clear sign of it.
Posted by FusedAndCondazed (26 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Jurisdiction, not bias
Different jurisdictions have different laws and reach different
conclusions on many legal issues. You come across as a complete
loser by claiming this result turned on the genders of the parties.
Posted by J.G. (837 comments )
Link Flag
3 kids under 3
The poor woman did not have time to have the extramarital
adventures her husband was apparently hoping to discover by
Posted by J.G. (837 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You would be surprised...
Just because she has children does not mean she did not have time to do something he would not want his wife doing. It is easy to chat on the computer now and then while at home watching the children. This is just a matter of where someone has their priorities and if hers were not on those children she had all the time in the world.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
When a program runs on a computer... the information collected on that computer occurs before it goes out onto the wire (LAN or modem).

That said... can this really be considered wire-tapping? Per the phone wiretapping rules, wiretapping is performed with a special physical device attached to the wire of a phone line.

Is capturing/loggin online information really considered wire tapping?

Posted by wbenton (522 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I installed FlashCrest iSpy on every machine that my employees use. Best protection ever! And they are well aware that they are being monitored.
Posted by StratusDodge (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot



RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.