The age-old business of breaking up has taken a decidedly Orwellian turn, with digital evidence like e-mail messages, traces of Web site visits and mobile telephone records now permeating many contentious divorce cases.
[…] Divorce lawyers routinely set out to find every bit of private data about their clients’ adversaries, often hiring investigators with sophisticated digital forensic tools to snoop into household computers.
“In just about every case now, to some extent, there is some electronic evidence,” said Gaetano Ferro, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, who also runs seminars on gathering electronic evidence. “It has completely changed our field.”
Privacy advocates have grown increasingly worried that digital tools are giving governments and powerful corporations the ability to peek into peoples’ lives as never before. But the real snoops are often much closer to home.
It gets worse
Being on the receiving end of electronic spying can be particularly disturbing. Jolene Barten-Bolender, a 45-year-old mother of three who lives in Dix Hills, N.Y., said that she was recently informed by AOL and Google, on the same day, that the passwords had been changed on two e-mail accounts she was using, suggesting that someone had gained access and was reading her messages. Last year, she discovered a Global Positioning System, or G.P.S., tracking device in a wheel well of the family car.
She suspects her husband of 24 years, whom she is divorcing.