Privacy a little too far?
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Thread: Privacy a little too far?

  1. #1
    Just a Virtualized Geek MrLinus's Avatar
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    Privacy a little too far?

    I'm surprised that Yahoo doesn't have a policy whereby if the family provides a death certificate that they release it. I believe mail organizations are like this. It certainly was the case in my mother's death.

    Source: CNN

    Dead soldier's kin plead for e-mail

    Tuesday, December 21, 2004 Posted: 10:13 AM EST (1513 GMT)

    WIXOM, Michigan (AP) -- The family of a Marine killed in Iraq is pleading with Internet giant Yahoo! for access to his e-mail account, which the company says is off-limits under its privacy policy.

    Lance Cpl. Justin M. Ellsworth, 20, was killed by a roadside bomb on November 13 during a foot patrol in Al Anbar province. The family wants the complete e-mail file that Justin maintained, including notes to and from others.

    "I want to be able to remember him in his words. I know he thought he was doing what he needed to do. I want to have that for the future," said John Ellsworth, Justin's father. "It's the last thing I have of my son."

    But without the account's password, the request has been repeatedly denied. In addition, Yahoo! policy calls for erasing all accounts that are inactive for 90 days. Yahoo! also maintains that all users agree at sign-up that rights to a member's ID or contents within an account terminate upon death.

    "While we sympathize with any grieving family, Yahoo! accounts and any contents therein are nontransferable" even after death, said Karen Mahon, a Yahoo! spokeswoman.
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  2. #2
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    I'm sure once the gov gets a hold of this, they'll have his email in no time.
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  3. #3
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    Yahoo! also maintains that all users agree at sign-up that rights to a member's ID or contents within an account terminate upon death.
    Just a sec.... was this included in the agreement while signing up for an account? It is kind of silly isn't it? The company doesn't stand to lose anything by letting the family members read his email. Anyway, why do they need his email so badly? He probably wrote a lot of mail to his family, they've got those letters with them anyhow. What do they need his id for?
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  4. #4
    Just a Virtualized Geek MrLinus's Avatar
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    Anyway, why do they need his email so badly? He probably wrote a lot of mail to his family, they've got those letters with them anyhow. What do they need his id for?
    Quoted from the article above:

    "I want to be able to remember him in his words. I know he thought he was doing what he needed to do. I want to have that for the future," said John Ellsworth, Justin's father. "It's the last thing I have of my son."
    When you lose someone, sometimes anything can be something nice to remember them by. Particularly when it is a violent early death (regardless of whether he knew the risks or not). It will probably also give them a list of contacts of people who may want to send a card of sympathy or flowers or something (friend listing).
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  5. #5
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    When you lose someone, sometimes anything can be something nice to remember them by.
    yea, i guess your right. a terrible shame though. The guy is just about my age.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member RoadClosed's Avatar
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    I would be appalled if my family went digging through my personal life after my death. My entire email file and all folders? Love letters to those I wish private etc.. Not that I am hiding anything, but the thought is disturbing. Hopefully they will know where to draw a line. I would hate to have something that makes me feel better but would be considered rude by the person I love.
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  7. #7
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    This points up the difference between what US Citizens percieve as privacy rights, what US corporations perceive as privacy rights, and what others (Canadians, EU citizens, etc) perceive as privacy rights.

    US Citizens need to read the fine print. They do not own the contents of their accounts with Yahoo, MSN, or any other provider. While they can expect a certain level of privacy with regard to casual observation, the contents are subject to subpoena or law enforcement observation. Yahoo isn't the only provider with similar policy with regard to deceased account holders.

    Consider, however, that what the deceased soldier shared with parents and family members may not be entirely in line with what the soldier shared with friends or fellow-soldiers. The release of the account contents could proved devastating to the family and their perceptions.

    I'm not siding with Yahoo, mind you. However, personal responsibility (in this case, on the part of the deceased soldier prior to being deceased) would include making arrangements in case of the unthinkable. I remember making arrangements and trying to think of all that before going into combat. It's hard, but should be done.

  8. #8
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    Being that e-mail is generally informal, it would be terrible if something in my mail was taken out of context and I wasn't around to explain.
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  9. #9
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    There is also the issue of confirming that the deceased was actually the owner of the email account. While it may be easy enough for a family member to say that they always sent email to that account most free email accounts ask for a very small amount of personal information.

    So how do you make sure that billybob23@yahoo.com is really John Doe? I don't see how it can be done. It would definitely take way to much effort for something that is a free service to begin with. I would definitely not want my private email given to any of my family members for the reasons that other people have listed above. If there is something that I want shared I'll put that into my will.

  10. #10
    Just a Virtualized Geek MrLinus's Avatar
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    They should be able to correlate IP addresses that access the email over time, specifically those overseas and those from their house.
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