TV Mom Kate Gosselin Sues Ex for Computer Hacking

Maybe the next show will be called “Jon & Kate Plus 9,” to account for eight children and a lawsuit. Reality TV mom Kate Gosselin is suing her ex, Jon Gosselin as well as a tabloid reporter, alleging that the pair teamed up to hack into her personal accounts and steal a trove of data to use as sensationalist book fodder.

In happier days, the pair’s parenting travails were made public on the TLC show “Jon & Kate Plus 8,” chronicling their life with eight young children including twins and sextuplets. The union took a turn for the ugly and the show was abruptly canceled in 2009 when the couple split up and got tangled in an ugly divorce.

Things just got uglier. According to the lawsuit, “after the couple was separated, Jon illegally hacked  into Kate’s email account, and her phone, and bank accounts. Jon also stole a hard drive from Kate’s house, which contained private and confidential material.” The allegedly stolen information was then used by reporter Robert Hoffman for tabloid reports and a book, the suit claims.

The book, titled “Kate Gosselin: How She Fooled the World” and published last year, was taken off the market after two days because it reportedly contained material that was illegally obtained.

The lawsuit accuses Jon and Hoffman of breaking the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act by illegally accessing Kate’s accounts, as well as pointing the finger at the pair for identity theft, wiretapping, invasion of privacy and conspiracy.


Trash-Picking Endeavors

The high-profile nature of the litigants aside, the case is a reminder for consumers to keep their passwords secure and their personal information personal.

Marc J. Randazza

“I wish the public was interested in these issues before Kate Gosselin got involved in them,” says Marc J. Randazza, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiff. “There seems to be far too little attention paid to what kind of expectation of privacy people have in their data.”

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act bars any unauthorized user from accessing accounts that don’t belong to them, which applies to personal email just as much as it does government files and records. “Forget about the law, just think about what a violation it is of someone’s privacy to enter into their private files like this,” Randazza says. “Would you break into someone’s house and steal their diary? You most certainly wouldn’t.”

Hoffman reportedly claims that he got the dirt on Kate not via her emails but by literally digging through the trash, an explanation the lawsuit takes exception to. “The materials in his possession could not possibly be physically found in paper format to that extent,” the complaint says. “If Hoffman was picking through trash on the street, he did not find this trove of personal information while engaging in his trash-picking endeavors.”

Randazza reiterates the plaintiff’s skepticism about her personal information turning up in the garbage. “That is not Kate’s position, that is not Kate’s belief,” he says, “and if he claims that I presume he’ll be prepared to demonstrate that and if he is unable to do so we may be a little more upset with him.”

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