Jersey Courts Rule You Can Read Anybody's Email If They Leave It Up

Senior Contributor

Do you often forget to log out of your email when you’re on public computers? If so, welcome senior citizen! Do you live in New Jersey? Then bad news: Anybody can read your email.

This got started because of, what else, a bureaucratic peeing match:

When Wayne Rogers, a New Jersey teacher, sat down in his school’s computer lab to check his e-mail, he bumped the mouse of the computer next to him. The screen on the adjacent computer came on, and Rogers saw that one of his colleagues, Linda Marcus, had left herself logged into her Yahoo e-mail account. He saw an e-mail thread with the subject “Wayne Update.” Curious, he clicked the e-mail and found it was a private discussion with another teacher of an argument between Rogers and Marcus.

So, Rogers, being an adult, did the mature thing. He printed out all the emails about him and then confronted Marcus in a public place in front of lots of people. You know, like an adult!

You might be wondering why looking through somebody’s email isn’t illegal in the Garden State. The answer is that it is, provided you don’t have the authorization to log into that person’s email.

The problem was that Marcus had logged into her email. The law only deals with email hackers. Essentially, because she’d left her email up in a public place, anyone of the public is cleared to poke around, see what spam she’s getting, maybe sign her up for r/spacedicks updates.

In short, you should always log off from your email…but doubly so in New Jersey. Possibly triply so, depending on whether any reality show trolls are around.

(Image courtesy Dougtone on Flickr)

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