A government evaluation a few years back estimated that about 1.5 percent of American adults were victims of digital spying and high-tech stalking.
On the one hand, that number might not seem to be too concerning, given the nation’s approximate population of 300 million-plus people.
On the other hand, though, quick extrapolation translates that percentage into several million people whose private lives (not really so private) are being pried into by third parties.
As a recent article on clandestine digital surveillance reveals, much of the spying is spurred by family law-related concerns. Seeking to use uncovered evidence to gain some advantage in a divorce matter is a common motivation.
NPR’s in-depth piece on “spying and divorce in the smartphone age notes that, increasingly, “couples are turning to the latest technology to spy on each other as their marriages fall apart.”
Case outcomes following discovery of such tactics have yielded uneven legal results. Obviously, it can sometimes be flatly illegal as well as unethical for a party to secretly spy upon an impending ex or former partner. NPR notes, though, that “the laws are [sometimes] murky” and that law enforcers often don’t really know how to proceed when evidence of spying is uncovered.
We stressed the “stunning family law implications” posed by clandestine spying in our January 9 blog post. We noted therein that things like GPS trackers and computer spyware can procure evidence that is weighty in a divorce-linked matter.
In its summing up of the topic, NPR fundamentally notes a few “open questions.” Those swirl around notions like privacy expectations and legal parameters regarding evolving technologies that easily allow for clandestine surveillance.
In the family law context, relevant questions and concerns going forward will unquestionably grow rather than dissipate.