A woman has been convicted of accessing her husband’s email account and discovering he was having several affairs. The Swiss woman became suspicious after her husband set up a second email account on their home computer, according to the Aargauer Zeitung.
The unnamed couple had always known each other’s passwords and had even written them down, according to the paper. Her husband used one of these passwords for his new account, so the woman was able to access it and read his emails.
When she did, she discovered that he had been having affairs with several other women for some time. She confronted her husband, who moved out of their apartment and later filed a criminal complaint against his wife for reading his emails.
In February this year prosecutors gave the woman a suspended fine of 9,900 Swiss Francs plus a 4,300 Swiss Franc fine for her unauthorized intrusion into her husband’s data.
The prosecutor said she deliberately and repeatedly invaded his email account and downloaded material that was not her own.
During her appeal at district court in Bremgarten, the woman’s lawyer insisted she didn’t hack into her husband’s email but instead accessed it through his password.
It emerged the woman had Googled to see if she would be prosecuted prior to reading her husband’s emails.
The court maintained the woman knew she was aware she could be breaking the law even though her search did not reveal a definitive answer on the subject.
The court upheld the conviction, saying unauthorized intrusion into someone else’s email account is illegal.
But her fine was reduced and the court acknowledged the woman had only shown “minimal criminal energy” since all she had to do to access the email account was to “exploit her husband’s carelessness” in using the password they both knew.
Swiss lawyer Martin Bürgi said it makes no difference whether the people involved are married, living together or don’t know each other at all, permission must be granted to read another person’s messages.
Reading data protected by a password or code without the account owner’s permission is illegal under article 143 of the Swiss criminal code, he said. According to the code, such an act is punishable with a fine or up to three years in prison.