Governments throughout the world have recognized that a problem exists concerning the ownership of emails, and a great deal of legislation has been passed since the first statue in 1970. Technology is bringing with it ever more challenges. Privacy advocates worldwide are actively seeking to sustain and extend privacy protection in order to cope with these challenges. The importance of privacy affects individual’s psychologically, sociologically, economically, and politically. The only means whereby people can sustain privacy protection and with it their humanity is through extreme vigilance of the courts. There needs to be concrete laws to provide an appropriate balance between data privacy and multiple competing interests. Data about an individual should not be automatically available to others. Even when data is possessed by another individual or an organization like Yahoo. The individual must have some degree of control over their data whether they are dead or alive. The judges can provide the utilitarian reasoning for data privacy. Contracts provide the deontological considerations of privacy.
The world has become computerized from the business side to the home front. Computer technology has ushered in a whole new way of thinking and doing things. At the tap of a finger in a process called email which allows an individual to share information with family, friends, and even enemies. Email information can be sent remotely and instantaneously to anywhere in the world that has internet service. That technology has brought about new challenges to privacy of the individual and their rights. The question at hand is who legally has access to an individual’s email whether they are dead or alive. Should death give someone else the right to read an individual’s email? My answer is no. No one else should be allowed to read an individual’s emails without prior permissions set in place. If you are alive your emails definitely should not be read without your permission, and I feel the same privacy rights should follow an individual even into death.
I believe to view an individual’s email just to obtain knowledge about their thoughts is wrong. There could be some sharing of information on the email(s) that the individual that does not want to be known by anyone other than whom it was sent to. Some emails might contain negative information and or thoughts that could embarrass an individual and tarnish their reputation.
In the 1970’s through the 1990’s there were some legislature that had been passed to protect individuals when it comes to information privacy on the internet. (as cited in Clarke, 1997) These laws mostly focused on data protection. The internet laws protect data about people, rather than people themselves. According to Roger Clarke, that is not a good thing, because data protection is a more practical approach than the abstract notion of privacy. Roger Clarke feels those earlier laws are not what humans actually need, because people often think of privacy as some kind of right. Unfortunately, the concept of a right is problematic because a right seems to be some kind of absolute standard. Privacy is not a single interest, but rather has several dimensions.
A Marine by the name of Justin Ellsworth gave his life for his country. After his death his parents wanted access to his email account. They wanted to see their son thoughts before his death. The son’s email account was with the internet company called Yahoo. The company refused to give out the deceased Marine password to his email account, because that particular request violated their company’s privacy regulation on personal email accounts. I feel Yahoo was within their rights by refusing to give Justin Ellsworth’s parents access to the deceased email account. (“The Christian Science Monitor,”