So it seems I might have made a mistake.

It was sunday evening and I was hanging out with around 10 people aged between 16 and 26 (rough estimate). At one point I grabbed the phone of one of the persons and unlocked it with the pattern I observed previously (not intentional though). Then I went ahead and created a whatsapp group with nearly all their contacts, gave it a random name (no swear word etc.) and sent a message along the lines

I love you all -a few emojis-

Then I gave back the phone and waited for the group to blow up. And it did. Then they handed me the phone to say that it was me and not the phone owner who sent the message. But I sent a picture of the phone owner with the line

Maybe it was me who sent the message

The phone owner was fully aware that I was having their phone all the time, though I had no explicit permission. They also never asked for their phone back even though they knew I unlocked it.

As their parents were in that group as well, they witnessed everything that happened in there and now they might want to press charges.

Yet I am wondering what actual charges they could press. Can I be charged for theft? Can I be charged for intruding the privacy of the phone owner? Or something entirely different?

Note that no physical harm was done and as far as I can tell, the only cause was embarrassment. Also the phone owner is 17 years old, so not an adult according to german law.


1) theft (Diebstahl) : Intension of permanently retaining another persions belongings

  • not fulfilled

2) possible, if the person envolved may choose to do so

3) Grobe Unfug (serious mischief), also possible if they choose to do so

Wiki (in German)


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  • 2) is § 202a StGB by the way – K-HB May 30 '19 at 19:38

I wouldn't worry about it too much... you are not a company nor did you share PERsonal Data with 3rd parties (the ones who got it did so under a context that the Data Subject had defined), therefore GDPR does not apply.

As said there was no theft only "appropriation" for a limited time frame and with the owner next to you.

Charges may always be raised on such a scenario, yet it all comes down to effective harmful consequences... if there were none...

Last, yet not least from a "defence stand point", the owner must take precautions not towards security when "passwords" are involved...

Any Junior Lawyer would render the entire complaint null... unless any additional circunstances have happend that you have not shared...

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