Suspicious Spouses Using Hi-Tech Spy Gadgets: Wall Street Journal

Read how many betrayed and scorned men and women are beginning to spy on their spouses using technology. Read tips on how to protect your privacy including getting your car scanned by a mechanic for mobile tracking devices.

By Josh D. Simon
Updated: July 17, 2014
divorce news

Move over James Bond (or for some younger readers, Austin Powers) – there’s a new type of clandestine operator on the loose who’s taking high-tech spy gadgetry to new levels: divorcing spouses.

That’s according to a compelling new Wall Street Journal article that explored the murky and rather chilling underworld of divorce-related surveillance, and discovered that it’s far more widespread than most people likely imagine.  

"If someone begins to have thoughts that they are being betrayed, they become obsessed with finding out the truth," Gerry Lane , a marriage counselor in Atlanta, told the Wall Street Journal. “Privacy does not exist in 2012." Lane also added that the infidelity cases he sees these days almost always involve a spying spouse.

However, while the increase in men and women driven to spy on their spouse is music to the ears of GPS makers and spy gadget companies that are seeing their sales rise through the roof, the mood in the judiciary is altogether less enthusiastic – especially since not all courts are in agreement on what “reasonable expectation of privacy” means within the context of a marriage.

For example, the article cites a 2008 case where an Iowa man was found to have breached his wife’s right to privacy by installing a hidden camera in her bedroom alarm clock.

However, just two years later, a Texas court dismissed an ex-wife’s lawsuit that her former spouse had breached the Federal Wiretap Act when he installed tracking software (“spyware”) on the family’s computer, and placed a recording device in the home before leaving. In his verdict, the judge claimed that the Act didn’t apply to what he called “interspousal wiretaps.”

So what can spouses do to prevent their current or soon-to-be-ex spouse from breaching their privacy, whether or not that behavior runs afoul of the law in their jurisdiction?

Family lawyers suggest a few common sense precautions:

1. Don’t leave smartphones or computer unattended, as that can invite snooping spouses to browse through emails, IMs and so on .

2. Buy a new computer to be 100% certain that it’s not “bugged” (advice that, no doubt, computer makers gleefully support). 

3. Take the car in and have it scanned by a mechanic for mobile tracking devices

With all of this being said, is there any hope that spouses will set aside the cloak and dagger act, and return to the good ol’ days of gut feelings, suspicious glares from behind tightly-gripped newspapers, and surreptitious scans of collars for lipstick, and blouses for cologne? Not according to some experts.

"People are dying to know if their spouses are cheating," Randall Kessler, former head of the American Bar Association's family-law section, told the Wall Street Journal. "You can have all the laws you want, but I think this is going to go on."

And that means the worlds of divorce and spying will only become more intertwined, not less.

Take that, 007.

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October 08, 2012

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