Spouses waive marital privilege by when communicating via work email

Posted On April 8, 2013
In Privacy in Cyberspace / Reply

The Fourth Circuit recently held that email communications between spouses sent through an employer’s email system could not be considered “confidential” and, therefore, were not protected by the marital privilege.

The court rejected the defendant’s argument that emails to his wife sent from his work account were protected by the marital privilege, on the ground that he had no reasonable expectation that they would remain confidential, reports Arnold & Porter.

The defendant’s employer had implemented a computer policy in 2008 that required its employees to acknowledge (by pressing a key to log onto their computers) that they would have no expectation of privacy in using its computer system. Although the messages at issue were sent in 2006, the Fourth Circuit found that the defendant did not take any steps to protect the emails in question once the employer’s policy was implemented and, thus, waived the marital privilege.

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