Basically, Mr. Jennings and his wife split after he admits that he has fallen in love with another woman. Wife’s daughter in law, who previously worked for Mr. Jennings, cracks into (my words, not the court’s) his office Yahoo! account. (For full facts, see the S.C. Court of Appeals case here:http://sccourts.org/opinions/displayOpinion.cfm?caseNo=4711).
Within the case we have a view of how South Carolina’s courts will deal with web-based e-mail and whether or not it falls within the definition of an “electronic communication service,” (ECS) finding that (drum roll please) Yahoo! indeed is one. Had the daughter-in-law just looked on the Husband’s hard drive, there would not have been a violation. Now perhaps you can see how tightly you need to consider, think through, and research your cases in this electronic arena before you file them.
As an aside here for you geeks (like me), a footnote to the Jennings case states as follows:
Hilderman v. Enea TekSci, Inc., 551 F. Supp. 2d 1183, 1204-05 (S.D. Cal. 2008) (holding that emails stored by employee on hard drive of company-issued laptop were not in “electronic storage” as contemplated by the SCA); In re DoubleClick, 154 F. Supp. 2d at 511-13 (holding that computer programs known as “cookies” placed by internet advertising corporation on the hard drives of plaintiffs’ computers were not in “electronic storage”)