The Bounds of Privacy

I couldn’t remember what grade but my elementary teacher once told us that a letter addressed to another person must never be opened because it is the worst form of invasion of privacy. The post office is sworn by law to respect this sacred rule and protect the privacy of its citizens. It’s been decades now but I have clung to this principle like a leech. I have never opened a letter not addressed to me, not even my wife’s. There’s a Berlin wall between me and my wife whenever it comes to this issue. I don’t sneak into her cell phone and neither does she. True, we are soul mates but there are things we’d like to preserve as being part of self, of identity, of being let alone.

News of breach of privacy by the institutions – government or private alike – always rings a louder bell and make it to the headlines. Just recently, a woman accused a telecom carrier for breaching her privacy through the mishandling of her phone invoice, causing the eventual break up of her marriage. Her cell phone bill was being mailed to her maiden name at the family home. The problem arose when the carrier offered the husband savings when services are bundled – landline, TV, cell phone – to which the husband agreed. Without her knowledge, her cell phone bill came in a single invoice for the services in the household. The husband discovered the many long hours of conversations on her call log, prompting the former to conduct an investigation. Her affair was unraveled. The marriage ultimately broke up.

She is now divorced, lost her job due to depression but she didn’t want to go out quietly. She is suing the carrier for $600K as compensation the breach of her privacy. Her point was the carrier didn’t ask her concurrence to integrate her invoice with her husband’s. The carrier insists that their act didn’t have any malicious intentions as there is nothing shady or abnormal with sending a single phone bill for Mr. and Mrs. living in the same residence. Some observers feel that the carrier isn’t to blame and the woman deserved the kick in the butt for her infidelity.

When you bundle services, it comes in a single invoice along with the other subscribed services in the household. Perhaps the woman thought that the carrier will continue to send the invoice in her name with the discount reflected. I guess the husband never opened her invoice but only discovered about her call details when it was integrated in a single bill.

The point is – does the woman have a case with the carrier ? She insists that the carrier never told her that her invoice would be included in her husband’s else she would have declined. Some observers are quick to rebut with the proverbial ” the end justifies the means” adage. She deserved it – period. But there is a profound ramnification of the bounds of privacy here which is quite unsettling. No longer must we assume that Mr. and Mrs. living in the same household are automatically hunky dory with things that we think can benefit the family. It becomes a necessity to explain in detail and obtain explicit concurrence from both parties for we never know that kind of walls exist between couples and the kind of backlash or trouble we might get into if only one party approves. With the accepted practice of women not changing their last names when they marry nowadays, always check and never assume. Times have indeed changed.


For those folks from the north who are deprived of the sun for months, it is now possible to live inside a water park 365 days in a year, that is if you want to break your piggy bank šŸ™‚ Soaking up is the name of the game at the Great Wolf Lodge. The lodge operates a water park indoors in a controlled environment where you can soak up to your heart’s content from 9am to 8pm, never caring about the weather outside. The lodge is friendly to kids and adults alike. Kids can treat the lodge like a den where they can go to the breakfast buffet at the restaurant in their pajamas. You get a permanent wrist band ala hospital patient as guest ID for the duration of your stay. The band allows you access to the water park and also serves as your hotel door key. Lose it and you’ll be dinged 40 bucks for a replacement. Kids love this place totally. We stayed here for 3 days and 2 nights. Frankly, soaking up for 3 days was a bit too much for me. I took the opportunity to play water basketball by myself, for at least an hour everyday as my workout. And yes, this is where I developed my post on Imperfection šŸ™‚

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32 Responses

  1. I’m no lawyer, but, IMO, unintentional or otherwise, the ex-wife have a case against the carrier. But with respect to “karmic” law. She really deserves her predicament.

    As for my wife, she has a different idea with regards to privacy and property. “What is mine is hers and what is hers is hers alone”.

    • I believe we should look at the case without being judgemental. There is a tendency for people to moralize and dismiss the woman’s argument as if to say – “you have no case because you were doing something immoral in the first place”.

      hehe… what else is new šŸ™‚

  2. That is very unfortunate. The woman’s life is now in ruins. When you get into infidelity, be prepared for the worst they say.

    A spa for kids ? That’s so cute šŸ™‚ I’m sure I will enjoy this place too.

    • well, I guess she was treading dangerous waters that could drown her anytime and it did happen. I sure she had thought about the consequences of what if – she is caught.

      yes, just for kids. I thought it was cool too. They also have a spa for adults ( obviously) šŸ˜‰

  3. This really opens a can of worms on the way we deal what is private and what is not. With pre-nuptial agreements and all sorts of legal contracts being signed between husband and wife nowadays, it looks like married couples don’t share anything except the matrimonial bed šŸ™‚

    3 days of soaking up ? I can take it if it is the beach šŸ˜‰

    • know what, in these days where people can sue left and right, you maybe right šŸ™‚

      make it a week …nothing beats the beach, sun and cold beers šŸ˜‰

  4. Very interesting and it seems a little bit of controversy. I think privacy connotes secrecy – in other words, if you are not hiding anything, then nothing to worry about. For married couples, privacy is out of the question because I believe that “transparency” is a sign of healthy relationship, otherwise what’s the point of living together if I dont know what my partner is doing.

    • A clean conscience makes one live freer and without fear – so true. Transparency with one another is a sign of a healthy relationship but there is also trust that takes care of doubts and speculations.

      I’ve said this quote so many times before ” you might be deceived if you trust too much but you will live in torment if you don’t trust enough” šŸ™‚

      married couples who had previous relationships or marriages have their so called “baggages” that they wouldn’t really like to open not talk about with their spouse. This is I think where the privacy part needs to be respected.

  5. The adulterous wife does have a strong case against the carrier. It was her cell phone account anyway, and the company should have asked her consent. Her having an affair has no bearing on the privacy case, legally speaking; it was a side story.

    I remember a bank manager-friend who told me that husbands and wives here in Manila asked her to keep their bank accounts highly private. By highly private, I mean no one, not even the husband/wife should know about it. “They have given me instructions not to let their spouses know about this or that account,” she told me.

    That said, I am glad I have an open communication with my husband, and we have this transparency thing. We both know that we have to replenish our long lost savings (LOL).

    Hi, BW. Hope all is well.

    • Indeed her adulterous behaviour was a side story. The carrier seemed to have acted in good faith but the problem is there is a general perception that there isn’t a privacy issue between husband and wife which may not be true at all times.

      In my case my cell phone and internet access line is being paid by my employer. My wife’s cell is under an employee discounted plan with her company. I don’t want to mess with her bill because she’s paying for it. I’m thinking if I open it, maybe she’ll ask me to pay it hehe šŸ™‚

      Nice to hear from you again . Hope all is well with you too šŸ™‚

  6. Privacy? Hell, if infidelity is the prime culprit, normal minds will go berserk, hehe….look at poor Jesse James, sarap ng buhay, all he need to do is make Sandra B happy and now paiyak-iyak na parang noypi actor.

    Pinas is quite a different story when mail delivery is the topic. Two letters I’ve sent to my sister several years ago on separate occasions never got to her, the mailman surely thought money or a check was inside.
    Most them are just “halang ang kaluluwa”.

    • Jesse James’ case is one that confirms the emptiness of existence syndrome . They say that when you attain something you strongly desire, boredom creeps in šŸ™‚ Having a goddess like Sandra Bullock became boring for Jesse after a while it seems.

      I blogged about the postal system back home more than a year ago I believe. It has improved these days but man, we all had our share of lost letters didn’t we ?

  7. you always manage to find the most interesting things to talk about here.

    times have indeed changed; however karma finds you whether you changed your name or not.

    suing the company because she got caught cheating leaves me speechless. i’d rather not say more.

    • This was a cafeteria talk topic at lunch back at the office. I’m kinda light years away from Boy Abunda though hehe šŸ˜†

      Since life is never perfect, we can only speculate the reasons why the woman had an extra-marital relationship. Most of us readily assume that she was slutting around with another man and the divorce was the penalty for her sin. It’s the typical buti nga response.

      What we don’t know is she might have been living in hell with her husband or maybe the marriage had a serious relationship problem. We can also speculate that if the carrier didn’t botch the bill for her, perhaps at some point she might have gathered back her senses and repaired the marriage. These are of course ifs and buts, pure speculations.

      The carrier’s alleged error is a technical matter. I am not a lawyer but I don’t think the judge will allow her act of infidelity to influence the decision whether the carrier broke her privacy or not. It boils down to what extent the law would define the bounds of privacy. That would include spouses breaking into their mate’s email and voice mail methinks. That’s my 2 cents šŸ˜‰

  8. If I am going to be very objective, yes, there is definitely a case against the courier. The marriage does not automatically combines two entities, in invoicing in particular. It is like when you are amending anything, it should be referred to the original approver. Ah, I talked too much. Anyway, the wife got what she deserves.

    • I’m curious if the judge will find the carrier negligent with the invoicing. We shall see. But I do agree that the carrier should have asked her to sign something but again , they say that there are always firsts – and this seems to be a first we heard, a bundled invoice resulting in a divorce šŸ˜Æ

  9. Indoor water park sounds strange. I’m so used to outdoor water parks with the warm sun. šŸ˜€

    • There’s Great Wolf Lodges also in the US. In fact this one we went to is a branch of it. There is an outdoor section for folks to catch the sun in summer but it is just a pool.

  10. ang tricky naman ng case na pinost mo sa blog entry mo

    but then again, regardless whether you’re married or you’re family, you’re entitled to your own individual privacy…

  11. i don’t blame the carrier.

    re the waterpark, i wanna visit it too ;p

    • understandable that you think so because husband and wife living in the same residence implies that both coordinate with each other in the payment of the household bill.

      Sure, please do visit but remember, you have to check in at least one night to be able to soak up šŸ™‚

  12. i remember an aunt (not living anymore) who read my letters when i had a vacation in their hometown. i even caught her reading one of the letters. i felt so disappointed.

    • I hope she didn’t open your letters for you ! That would have been more diabolical. I know a Catholic school dormitory for out of province students that made a practice of reading the boarder’s letters before handing to them. Yikes, it was OK then and I’m not sure if it is still happening.

  13. the truth will always come out no matter how you hide it. Now legally, she may have a case against the carrier and if I were the hubby, I’d help her win the case and once she gets the moolah, I’ll sue her for every cent naman. tit for tat di ba? Hahaha.

    • when it comes to karma, she definitely got it.

      problem is when it comes to divorce here, the men always end up with the proverbial ” studio apartment with a single lightbulb” scenario. the court will order the husband to support the spouse regardless of her infidelity.

      I know a case of a cheating wife who ended up getting the custody of the 2 kids and the house while the husband moved to an apartment and was paying a huge alimony to support them. I guess it depends on how much you pay your lawyer šŸ˜‰

  14. same is true with my family, there was even a time that i missed an important date because my mom refused to open a mail sent in my provincial address. i was thought to respect individual spaces šŸ™‚

    • happened to me once in Pinas but not related to letters. A company called me for an interview and the dork that answered the phone at the house ( my cousin) gave me the wrong date ! So I went for the interview ( final) but I was told I missed the appointment . I got so frigging mad because it screwed up my application. It didn’t screw up my career fortunately but you just hate it when this kind of things happen šŸ˜¦

  15. Good thing that my wife and I trusts each other. I don’t even read messages in her cellphone and she’s doing the same likewise. Sealed letter as well. But for my bills, she’s opening it sometimes before me for the reason that she’s the one paying for the bills, Hehehe…
    Yes, my wife and I are one in heart and we consider ourselves as one but we still put forth respect to our individuals privacy…

    • true it’s nice to have a little corner you can call your own and some quiet time for yourself. Minsan it is incredibly monotonous kung everything you do, you do it together šŸ˜†

      Meron akong kaibigan na pagnatulog na si missus, dapat tulog na rin sya hehe šŸ™‚

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