The Supreme Court of Argentina ruled that spying on Facebook, email and the cell phone contacts is a federal crime. The decision came out of a dispute between two courts (in the case of a woman who denounced her former partner for entering in her social media account, checking her e-mails and copying the SIM of her cell phone with all the contacts. The case was brought before, the Supreme Court to resolve the after two courts fought for this case.
Federal Judge Luis Rodríguez rejected the case because, in his opinion, “there is no interest in the case that transcends the strictly individual, or any circumstance capable of founding federal intervention.” The attorney general Eduardo Casal alleged that “the social network user and the e-mails constitute an electronic communication or computer data of restricted access, with access only possible through a means that by its own characteristics is within the services of telecommunications.” For this reason, Mr. Casal considered that these issues “are of interest to the Nation,” so its misuse is a federal crime. The Supreme Court supported the attorney general’s argument without dissent.
A similar case was solved by the Superior Court in 2014 in a case related to the violation of a Facebook account, also by a competition issue between two judges, one federal and the other contravention. At that time, the court treated the issue as a “breach of correspondence,” comparable to e-mail espionage. The courts’ arguments used the same words that the prosecutor has now recovered in his last ruling: as it is the violation of a telecommunications service, it cannot be considered an action limited to the individual scope.
According to Argentine law, electronic espionage deserves penalties of between 15 days and 6 months in prison. Also, the penalty may be increased to one year if it is proven that the accused spread the data to a third party. Hopefully, the possibility of serving jail time will act as a deterrent for people snooping on their partners.