Shared Passwords On Devices Can Be Snooping Spouses’ Best Ally

By Wendy Lee
San Francisco Chronicle

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Attorneys suggest that from a legal perspective, part of the challenge in cases involving electronic communication is that the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which governs what is private, came into existence before text messages and Facebook and therefore is outdated. The law protects email as private. But spouses who openly share passwords with each other could likely use intercepted text messages as evidence in a legal proceeding.

San Francisco Chronicle

James Phills uncovered details about his estranged wife’s romance with his boss through private Facebook messages he wasn’t meant to see.

The messages were sent between his wife and the dean of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business in 2012.

But Phills, a Stanford professor at the time and now an Apple employee, said in court documents that he saw some of the messages because his wife, Stanford Professor Deborah Gruenfeld, had stored her passwords on Phills’ devices.

She and Phills were separated at the time, and she has said she did not give him the passwords.

It’s a messy case, but it points at a simple truth: the ability to store passwords on multiple devices carries privacy risks.

It’s convenient, allowing people to access text messages and notifications across smartphones, computers or tablets all at once.

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