Does Unauthorized E-Mail Access Disturb The Peace?

This piece is slightly dated, but it’s interesting. A California Appellate Court has decided that an ex-husband can be enjoined from accessing his ex-wife’s e-mails accounts. Apparently, the ex-husband accessed his ex-wife’s e-mails, read them, publicly disclosed them, and started showing up at events described in the e-mails. The interesting question was whether the ex-husband’s annoying behavior permitted an injunction under California’s Domestic Violence Protection Act. In other words, where’s the line between obnoxious and abusive? The trial court felt that the DVPA did not apply. The Appellate Court, though, disagreed:

“W]e determine that the allegations in [the ex-wife’s] application and declaration are facially sufficient for a showing of abuse within the meaning of the DVPA. … [The ex-husband’s] conduct included accessing, reading, and publicly disclosing the content of [the ex-wife’s] confidential e-mails, and … his conduct caused her to suffer ‘shock’ and ’embarrassment,’ to fear the destruction of her ‘business relationships,’ and to fear for her safety. …

“In other words, [the ex-husband’s] conduct with respect to [the wife’s] e-mail account, as stated in her declaration, allegedly caused the destruction of her mental or emotional calm and could, if found to be true, constitute ‘disturbing the peace of the other party’ … a form of abuse within the meaning of the DVPA.”

Apparently, a jerk is a jerk regardless of the medium.