lists and summarizes California privacy laws.
Penal Code § 502(c)(2) makes it a criminal offense for anyone who
(2) Knowingly accesses and without permission takes, copies, or
makes use of any
data from a computer, computer system, or computer
network, or takes or copies any supporting documentation, whether
existing or residing internal or external to a computer, computer
system, or computer network.
It can be argued that this would also violate Penal Code § 631, seehttp://leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=pen&group=00001-01000&file=630-638
but § 502 is more specific to computers.
If the person copied an email that had your image or voice, that would be a probable violation of Civil Code
(b) A person is liable for constructive invasion of privacy when
the defendant attempts to capture, in a manner that is offensive to a
reasonable person, any type of visual image, sound recording, or
other physical impression of the plaintiff engaging in a personal or
familial activity under circumstances in which the plaintiff had a
reasonable expectation of privacy, through the use of a visual or
auditory enhancing device, regardless of whether there is a physical
trespass, if this image, sound recording, or other physical
impression could not have been achieved without a trespass unless the
visual or auditory enhancing device was used.
My opinion is that hacking your emails violated Penal Code § 502 and constituted an invasion of privacy, even in the absence of any statute. People have an expectation of privacy in their emails.
A federal court
has interpreted § 502 to prohibit harvesting your email address
, not to mention the contents of your emails, seeFacebook, Inc. v. ConnectU LLC
Case No. C 07-01389 RS (N.D. Cal., May 21, 2007).
Denying in part defendant’s motion to dismiss
, the Court held that Facebook had stated a valid claim under California Penal Code Section 502 by alleged that defendant knowingly accessed Facebook’s site and, in violation of the site’s prohibitions, copied user email addresses. One violates this section when he “knowingly accesses and without permission takes, copies, or makes use of any data from a computer, computer system or computer network, or takes or copies any supporting documentation, whether existing or residing internal or external to a computer, computer system, or computer network.” This claim was valid notwithstanding the fact that ConnectU obtained such access by using, with their permission, authorized passwords given Facebook users.
The Court also allowed Facebook to proceed with common law misappropriation claims arising out of such activities, holding the same were not preempted by the Copyright Act.
I hope this information is helpful.