Effects of Tech on Privacy 7 Divorce

BY JACQUELINE HAROUNIAN & SHAYLA RAMOS

Rapid advancements in technology have enabled global electronic communications and unprecedented levels of interconnectivity. Add in the COVID-19 global pandemic, and we are witnessing in real-time the push to revolutionize technology way beyond its current limits.

If you are dealing with a deterioration of your current relationship, have separated from your spouse or have already started the divorce process, digital technology can be problematic and challenging with regard to your privacy.

One thing to always keep in mind, especially before you write that detailed post bashing your ex on Facebook or showing off your new paramour on Instagram is that anything posted online can be used against you in court. Divorce attorneys increasingly encounter digitally harvested evidence in their divorce cases. One major growing concern is spousal spying.

Technological advancements like Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri, and many smart tech surveillance systems, it is easy for a spouse to save and use any information that has been recorded against you.

A vindictive spouse with access to your online accounts, laptop or wireless devices can make unauthorized changes, withdrawals, or collect potentially damaging information to use against you in court or at the settlement table. How can I tell if I’m being spied on?

Your spouse may be spying on you in any or all of a number of ways:

• Monitoring your mail, email, phone calls, and/or text messages.

• Monitoring your use of social media (such as Facebook).

• Tracking you or your vehicle using GPS.

• Having you bugged.

• Watching you via video surveillance, including via a nanny cam.

• Having you followed by a private investigator.

• Following you personally.

EMAIL AND INTERNET MONITORING

Your spouse may not need any special software or gadgets to check your email. He or she may simply check your computer or smartphone when you’re not using them if they’re not protected by a password.

Your spouse may also know (or be able to guess) your passwords and get into your email and Internet accounts that way. Your spouse may also install spyware in your computer or cellphone that will allow him or her to remotely monitor your emails and the websites, including dating sites and chat rooms, you’re visiting.

Keystroke logging (also called keylogging or keyboard capturing) software and hardware can allow your spouse to track every character you enter, including passwords to your personal financial accounts. There are tools you can use to detect whether there’s a keystroke logger installed on your computer.

An anti-virus program should be able to detect spyware. If you don’t have anti-virus protection on your computer, you should get it for a lot of reasons – spying by your spouse is only one of your worries.

CELL PHONE MONITORING

Your spouse may be able to install a program that allows him or her to view your text messages, call history, GPS location, contacts, photos, and other information. This particular program works by intercepting your iCloud backups, so if you change your iCloud password it will stop working.

If your Apple iPhone is “jailbroken,” then it’s especially vulnerable to spyware. If you didn’t jailbreak your phone, then your spouse may have done it in order to install spyware.

LANDLINE MONITORING AND OTHER BUGS

Your spouse may have the expertise or resources to bug your home, office, car or landline phone. Here are some signs that you might have been bugged:

• You notice odd sounds or volume changes on your phone.

• You can hear sounds coming from your phone even after you hang up.

• Often when your phone rings there’s nobody there, but you can hear a faint tone, squeal, and/or beep.

• Your TV or FM radio suddenly develops interference.

• Your electrical wall plates are out of place.

• You notice white-wall dust or debris on the floor.

Although it’s sad to feel that you have to “look a gift horse in the mouth,” a present from your spouse in the form of an electronic device, such as a clock radio, boom box, CD player or even a teddy bear, may hide a bug or a surveillance device.

Jacqueline Harounian is a partner of the Law Firm of Wisselman, Harounian & Associates, P.C.

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