In recent weeks we have been confronted with a number of instances where a person has co-opted a spouse’s or a child’s cellular phone or other form of Personal Digital Assistant (PDA). They have done this for the purpose of snooping to find out what the other person is doing. In some instances, the motivation is pure. But purity of motive does not constitute a criminal defense. For under Pennsylvania law it is an offense to obtain access to a wire or electronic communication while it is in electronic storage unless that access is authorized. Doing so has potential criminal and civil violations.

The law is complicated and the case law has set forth some unusual exceptions. But plainly, one tampers with this data at some risk and if it is that important one is best advised to proceed in consultation with an attorney well versed in both the federal and state wiretap statutes and with their associated case law.