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Suppose Alice has an online account. Bob says to Alice "Give me access to your account". Alice says no, but Bob has access to Alice's email and does a password reset. This required him to incorrectly claim to be Alice by ticking a tick box. He then reads Alice's activity.

In the situation where Alice and Bob are unrelated adults this access is clearly illegal in most/all the world. In the UK I guess this would include Section 1 of the Computer Misuse Act: Unauthorised access to computer material. This involves two elements:

  • There must be knowledge that the intended access was unauthorised; and
  • There must have been an intention to secure access to any program or data held in a computer.

In the situation where Alice is a child and Bob is her father, these elements would be equally in place as if they were strangers. Would Bob have any protection from such computer misuse laws by virtue of that relationship? Any jurisdiction would be interesting.

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    IANAL, but I don't see why this would be different from any other crime that the child commits against their parent.
    – Barmar
    Commented May 14 at 16:38
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    @Tak They probably do not, hence I have not heard of law suits related to this. However from a reading of the law it is not obvious why not. The law does not seem to refer to the victim at all, it is the act of authorised access that is illegal. That would seem to be as true if the account was for an adult, a child or a non-human (perhaps an organisation or a role).
    – User65535
    Commented May 14 at 17:03
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    In general, children tend to have fewer privacy rights from parents. The parent's responsibility to raise and protect the child gives them wide latitude to invade the child's privacy, as long as it doesn't become abusive.
    – Barmar
    Commented May 14 at 17:15
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    @Tak The law does not seem to refer to the victim at all, so there is no obvious reason why it would make a difference why anyone involved is under 18 or not.
    – User65535
    Commented May 14 at 17:37
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    Age is relevant for in general you are deemed more legally competent the older you get. Someone at age 12 is usually deemed fully legally incompetent, at 14 some competency is assumed and at 16 even more leeway is assumed to be usual and at 18 full legal competency is assumed. At the same time, the expectation of privacy between parent and child is often deemed to receed: someone at 17 and a half is generally seen as competent enough that almost all rights to privacy are afforded if they are in dispute.
    – Trish
    Commented May 15 at 7:41

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