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21 J. Am. Acad. Matrimonial Law. 653 (2008)
Spousal Abuse through Spyware: The Inadequacy of Legal Protection in the Modern Age

handle is hein.journals/jaaml21 and id is 665 raw text is: Spousal Abuse Through Spyware

Imagine a situation of domestic abuse, where the wife lives
in constant fear. The husband is physically abusive only in rare
events, so the truth goes unnoticed by outsiders. Yet he is con-
stantly mentally and emotionally abusive, controlling where the
wife goes, who she talks to, and what money she spends. He
tracks her moves by monitoring her computer activity. Any web-
sites she visits, he knows about. Any e-mail she sends, he reads.
All instant messaging she engages in, he will see. All pin num-
bers, credit cards numbers, and passwords she has are exposed to
him. When she seeks help by e-mailing a mental health profes-
sional or a women's shelter, he learns about it instantly and takes
the measures necessary to ensure she goes no further in her
search for help. This is just one example of the dangers of
spyware1 and why it must be considered as a form of domestic
abuse when one spouse uses it to dominate and control the other.
The current legal scheme, under both state and federal law,
is inadequate to address the problem of spyware within the con-
text of the marital relationship. This Comment uses the state of
Missouri as a model to demonstrate the flaws. No criminal stat-
utes effectively address the problem of marital spying. Some civil
causes of action exist that might potentially address spyware, but
they are not well developed or targeted to put an end to this
* The author would like to thank her husband, Nicholas Clevenger, for
his continued support and Nancy Levit, Curators' and Edward D. Ellison
Professor of Law, for her guidance, support, and comments.
1 Merriam  Webster's On-Line Dictionary defines spyware as
software that is installed in a computer without the user's knowledge and
transmits information about the user's computer activities over the Internet.
Merriam-Webster, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spyware (last
visited Feb. 28, 2008). For an overview on spyware, see Susan P. Crawford,
First Do No Harm: The Problem of Spyware, 20 BERKELEY TECH. L.J. 1433

Vol. 21, 2008

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