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Is it illegal to access a foreign email account ?

Is it illegal to access a foreign email account ?


Email has become the most popular communication system between clients and companies. It’s one of the most important tools for business development. But there are a few laws that are made for the system to work properly.


Email has been existing since 1961, in a form or another, and some laws were developed in 1986. But one thing that the authorities didn’t see coming was that email was about to become the most popular mean of communication. Those laws were outdated soon and so it’s hard to say that is illegal to access another person’s account.

USA law

The few laws that manages the email are Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) and Stored Communications (SCA). The first laws were meant to stop governments to violate the intimacy of users.


These laws are hard to apply because of the huge number of users. But with this, new technologies help to track down users if they have violated the privacy of other accounts.

One of the most known email violation cases is the one from 2008. It’s the case of the candidate for the Vice-president’s chair, Sarah Palin. The hacker is not likely to be accused of fraud, although he had broken the law and accessed protected information without any permission.

Misguided conceptions

There is a certain misguided interpretation of these laws. For example, it’s not clear that these laws also apply to governments or if there are any constrains for the authorities.

Another badly formulated law is that of accessing data. The law isn’t clear if it refers only to read mails or to unread mails. Until today both types of data have been accepted in court.


No matter the circumstances, accessing another person’s email account is illegal. It doesn’t matter if the password is guessed or broken. The implications are the same.

Tag: accessing another person's email account, electronic mail services, email, email accounts, email laws, email restrictions, email services, internet email law, laws concerning email accounts

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