The kidnapping-in-Lebanon story is an extreme example of the consequences of email snooping.
When he learned his two children were taken by a group of men at a bus stop on the street, Ali al-Amin’s extreme panic was somewhat mitigated because he knew the mother of his children – Sally Faulkner – was likely behind it.
How did he know this? Because he had logged into her email account, without her permission, and read her emails.
The screen captures he took of Faulkner’s emails, which he had access to until December, showed Faulkner had planned to kidnap her children in Beirut, to bring them back to Australia. Amin’s records helped police identify the suspects involved.
“I had access to Sally’s emails so I knew the plan, but I didn’t think they would be that ballsy,” Amin said.
This is a case where the consequences of email snooping involved the safety of two children, and the exposure of potentially criminal activity.
It’s a little bit different to sussing out the true nature of your partner’s friendship with that work colleague.
But it does beg the question, when is email snooping okay? What are the potential consequences? And is it always worth it?
It starts with temptation...
You see your partner's phone open.
Just a look. They'll never know. It will put my mind at rest.
Then, just like that, you've entered the rabbit hole.
All of a sudden, you have at your disposal a smorgasbord of new information and you're overwhelmed (and a little feverish) by the volume of opportunity that is in front of you. I can know everything.
Maybe you find what you're looking for, and your suspicions are proved correct. But, now what? Hey so I was just casually reading your emails, and came across...
Or maybe you don't find what you're looking for. And you now know a whole slew of information that was really none of your business. Maybe you've found another reason to be ticked off. Maybe you've discovered the real reason those friends from his work stopped coming round for dinner.
Either way. You're still fuming. But are you right?
Email stalking, it seems, is prolific.
A recent study, conducted by a security and surveillance company in the UK, found 1 on 10 Brits have hacked into either their partner's or child's digital correspondence for 'innocent reasons'. While 22% admitted to digital snooping for 'dishonest reasons'.
What counts as 'innocent'? According to those surveyed, it's when you log into your partner's email to reply to something on their behalf and at their request, or when you're trying to locate someone who is missing. Sounds fair enough.