As former congressman Anthony D. Weiner and his soon to be ex, Huma Abedin, a top aide to Hillary Clinton found out, your data is not secure during divorce.
The New York Times reports that no matter a person’s level of technical skill, it can be difficult to hide digital behavior from a spouse, a spouse’s lawyers or, in Mr. Weiner’s case, federal investigators.
In August, Ms. Abedin, one of Mrs. Clinton’s closest aides and confidantes, informed her husband, a former congressman and mayoral candidate, that she wanted to separate after his latest sexting scandal. A federal investigation of Mr. Weiner revealed a trove of messages, including some belonging to Ms. Abedin.
I’ve written about the intersection of online social media and divorce before. In divorce proceedings, lawyers and investigators routinely mine public social media profiles for a glimpse into the activities of the client’s spouse.
But their investigations go far beyond that, as they sift through whatever data they can legally obtain for signs of hidden assets or to catch the spouse in a significant lie. Lawyers are likely more focused on questions of finance and child custody than lurid questions of adultery or betrayal.
Even so, a computer “tells you everything about a person’s character,” said Brook Schaub, a forensic analyst and licensed private investigator at the accounting firm Eide Bailly. It has “become the file cabinet, the stationery, the social networking, the everything,” he said.
The data that can become publicly available depends largely on the individuals’ penchant for privacy and how careful they have been. Even those who value privacy during the relationship are at risk of the former spouse finding sensitive data.
The first steps taken after the divorce process begins can be critical. Some recommend that clients create a new email account, stop sharing calendars and turn off the ability for apps on their phones to track their locations.
Someone committed to finding embarrassing or otherwise discrediting information about a spouse can most likely find a way, especially if he or she is willing to flout the law. Such revelations may not be admissible in court, but they could bring professional ramifications or personal embarrassment.
But there are also fully innocent and legal ways that a spouse can gain access to what was thought to be private data, especially among those lacking savvy with their technology.
As an example, a text message could go simultaneously to a phone and an iPad that was left with children or a former spouse, something many people forget or don’t know, especially if they didn’t set the devices up themselves.
The New York Times article is here.