When it comes to spying on your spouse, the days of the Magnum PI-type private investigating may be over. With the abilities of GPS tracking, closed-circuit television (in the form of secret surveillance), and hidden recordings, couples are doing their own private investigating more and more.
But this new “reality show” type evidence using cameras and microphones to secretly monitor each other’s activities may not only land you in divorce court, but may land you in court for privacy rights violations.
According to a case in Ohio, Catherine Zang is suing her ex-husband Joseph Zang for secretly monitoring the family’s activities inside the home.
Mrs. Zang has accused her ex-husband of planting “bugs” and cameras all over the home. While Mr. Zang was very creative in where he planted the devices; a GPS tracking device inside his ex-wife’s car, a video camera inside an electrical outlet, and a microphone in a wall, Mr. Zang’s spy activity has landed him in federal court in a lawsuit filed by both Zang’s ex-wife and and internet friend of hers (whom she had never met), named Javier Luis.
“I felt very violated and I continue to feel violated,” Mrs. Zang said. “I was in the privacy of my own home,” she went on to say.
Mrs. Zang’s correspondence with Luis was being monitored through a “Web watcher” program that was installed on her computer. What’s interesting is it wasn’t only Mrs. Zang’s private behavior that was recorded, but also recordings of dramatic altercations between the couple.
While Mr. Zang admits to the secret spying, he believes as the owner of his own home he has done nothing wrong. In fact he may have certain protections for being the homeowner and installing the gear.
According to Ken Altshuler, president of the American Academy of matrimonial lawyers, “If you live in the house you can do things in your own house. On the other end of this, judges hate this. The judge is going to think you’re a scumbag for doing this.”
But this trend is growing in the United States were couples are spying on each other, but they may be too embarrassed to expose the material that has been secretly taped. Sophisticated technology makes this possible and easily affordable.
In an interesting twist, Mrs. Zang’s lawsuit hit a bump when it was revealed that her then-lawyer (and brother-in-law), Donald Roberts, is allegedly the person that advised Mr. Zang to install the surveillance equipment in the first place.
Mrs. Zang and Mr. Luis – in separate lawsuits – are suing for hundreds of thousands of dollars combined.