Jeffrey Collins of Associated Press reports:
The South Carolina Supreme Court has ruled a man’s privacy was not violated when his wife’s daughter-in-law managed to get into his email and find out the name of his lover.
The justices unanimously ruled Wednesday that since the emails were still in the husband’s inbox, the daughter-in-law did not violate a 1986 federal law about email storage.
Read more on The Republic.
The court’s decision rested on the interpretation of one clause in the Stored Communications Act (SCA). From the ruling:
18 U.S.C. § 2701(a). This section thus proscribes the unauthorized accessing of an electronic communication while it is in “electronic storage.” The SCA defines “electronic storage” as “(A) any temporary, intermediate storage of a wire or electronic communication incidental to the electronic transmission thereof; and (B) any storage of such communication by an electronic communication service for the purposes of backup protection of such communication.”
If I understand this all correctly, because the lawsuit had been based only on (B), the court only considered whether e-mails left in the husband’s inbox that had never been downloaded to his computer constituted a “backup protection.” The court held that if there’s no other copy, it’s not backup protection, and therefore there was no violation of the SCA in this case.
Thanks to Kurt Opsahl for the link to the ruling.