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Computer Law/non-password protected access to ex's email


Several months after being assaulted by my husband, and having a restraining order against him for the protection of my children and myself, I found that I had access to an Outlook email account, which also had my own account on it.  It does not require a password, and I simply clicked on the icon, and for several months, was able to access some of his email.  In addition, he also left his Facebook account open on our ipad.  A family member found this several months after he left, and we were able to see many private messages incriminating himself.  Both of these items, my desktop and the ipad, are within the marital home.  I have not accessed anything using a personal device of HIS.  I have not hacked by obtaining a password, and in fact, he recently changed his passwords and i no longer have access.  The emails and Facebook messages are information that are on MY personal devices.  Do I have a legal right to access any information on MY own devices?  Have I violated privacy laws?  A few of the Facebook messages have been submitted to court as evidence against a very untruthful, full-of-lies declaration he provided to court.  He always asked me very sarcastically, 'Where's the proof?"  Well, now I have proof.  Thank you.


I cannot provide specific legal advice in this forum.  If you take a look at some of the other answers I have provided here, you can find some information about privacy laws and how they affect spouses' (and ex-spouses') computer access rights.

In general, I would point you to the applicable laws of Washington for you to review: and

In general, Washington State requires ALL parties to consent to access a computer, so I would strongly suggest you retain a local attorney who can advise you accordingly.

Good luck,

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Dan Pepper


I can answer questions regarding all forms of Internet, technology, and multimedia law. Specific areas may include: website terms and conditions, privacy policies, copyright, trademark, domain name disputes, software and technology licensing, and website and software development agreements. More information can be found at


I've practiced law since 1994, representing dozens of ecommerce, Internet, and software companies.

NJ State Bar Association PA State Bar Association American Bar Association American Corporate Counsel Association Internet & Computer Law Committee of the New Jersey State Bar Association Somerset County Business Partnership Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Licensing Executives Society Free Speech Coalition Board of Advisors, Stevens Institute of Technology Communications

BA, Political Science; JD.

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