The Importance of Changing Passwords after Separation

Meera Shinh
Author:
Meera Shinh
Senior Associate Solicitor, Family Law
Date:
18/08/2021

With heightened emotions at the time of separation, it might be easy to remember to split assets and belongings, but often people forget to change security settings on devices such as ‘Alexa’ or security devices like video doorbells. You might even have shared iCloud accounts and passwords for emails accounts that understandably slip your mind when separating.

Woman Hacks Ex’s Alexa and Social Media Accounts

A case in the Courts this week is a reminder of the importance of protecting privacy in such ways when a relationship breaks down. 

In criminal proceedings widely reported this week, a woman received a criminal conviction for her use of her ex-partner’s accounts after their separation. It is reported that she used her continuing access to her ex’s Alexa device and CCTV systems in order to harass him and his new partner in a variety of ways, including sending messages, and turning lights ‘on and off and monitoring them.’ 

It was also alleged she had accessed her ex partner’s social media account and posted a naked picture of his.  She was charged with a ‘revenge porn’ offence and ‘hacking’ of his accounts.

It is reported that whilst she admitted posting the picture, she explained she should not face criminal prosecution for hacking as she has used passwords she had legally and by consent.

Protect Your Privacy

As Family Law Solicitors, we often remind people to consider changing passwords to devices or email accounts, so you can maintain your privacy. This case acts as an important reminder as to what the consequences can be for all concerned where that doesn’t happen, and such information is misused.

It is also important to understand that quite aside from criminal sanctions, someone illegally accessing or using someone else’s personal data could face civil proceedings - such as injunctions or damages.

There are also limits on what you can do even when you believe the end justifies the means.

Is It Ever Okay to Access an Ex’s Accounts?

It is not unusual for separated couples to argue they have sought to access their ex-partner’s private documents or information in order to find the truth and prove he or she has lied about important issues, such as what assets they have.

Whilst the Court will never endorse people lying or failing to disclose the truth of the position, the law is also clear that the end does not justify the means, and there can be serious consequences for trying to access or use material that has been found in this way. Within family proceedings, such information is governed by a case called ‘Imerman’, which sets out the rules that apply.

As technology moves forward, there will always be new loopholes to address and new points to consider, as this recent case shows. But for now, the message should always be to act with extreme caution when thinking about accessing any accounts, devices or documents that are private to your ex, especially where any form of password or security is involved.

If in doubt, check with a Solicitor about what you are legally entitled to do, to avoid getting into trouble further down the line.

For initial legal advice call our Family Law and Divorce Solicitors

We're happy to help

Monday to Friday 8:30am-7:00pm

08002 605 010

08002 605 010

We're happy to call you

Simply click below to arrange a call

Request a Call Back

Request a Callback

This data will only be used by Simpson Millar in accordance with our Privacy Policy for processing your query and for no other purpose

Simpson Millar Solicitors are a national law firm with over 500 staff and offices in Billingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Catterick, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester.