Is reading other people's Whatsapp conversations a crime? - Sagué Abogados penalistas
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Is reading other people’s Whatsapp conversations a crime?

Is reading other people’s Whatsapp conversations a crime?

Today, it is impossible for us to imagine our daily lives without social networks or new technologies, it is clear that they have become part of us, allowing us to be constantly updated and in constant contact with our family and friends farther away. However, while it is true that these tools greatly facilitate our daily lives, it is no less true that their misuse can have serious legal consequences, such as the commission of criminal offenses that are largely unknown to the vast majority of users.

According to our Penal Code, article 197, commits a crime of discovery and disclosure of secrets. “whoever, in order to discover the secrets or violate the privacy of another, without his consent, takes possession of his papers, letters, e-mail messages or any other documents or personal effects or intercepts his telecommunications or uses technical devices for listening, transmission, recording or reproduction of sound or image, or of any other communication signal, shall be punished with a prison sentence of one to four years and a fine of twelve to twenty-four months. (…)”.

On the other hand, our Jurisprudence understands that accessing a person’s telephone without his consent violates his privacy and the secrecy of communications. recognized in Article 18 of our Constitution of 1978, as was also understood by the Criminal Court No. 3 of Jaen, sentencing a woman to one year in prison and a fine of 1,080 euros as the author of a crime of discovery and disclosure of secrets for accessing through her husband’s cell phone to intimate conversations that he had held with a neighbor, considering that it was an obvious invasion of privacy. Logically, it was absolutely irrelevant for legal purposes why the woman carried out such conduct.

Obviously, we are not referring to the mere conduct of taking someone else’s cell phone, but the act of accessing Whatsapp conversations, e-mail or even the image gallery without having the corresponding consent of the owner. Naturally, it will also be a crime to disclose such content without the corresponding authorization, even if the disclosure is made between private individuals in a private environment.

And if this were not surprising enough for many users, our Penal Code also considers such conducts to be even more serious, imposing a heavier penalty when they are carried out by the user. spouse or other person who is or has been united to the telephone holder by an analogous relationship of affectivity, even without cohabitationThe person has taken advantage of the relationship of trust that unites them to gain unlawful access to the privacy of the other. In this sense, we must bear in mind that the fact that on some occasion a person has given us the password does not mean that we can make indiscriminate use of it with impunity.

In short, we must be very diligent when using new technologies, because, as we have seen, despite the enormous feeling of freedom and impunity that these tools give us, nothing could be further from the truth.