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Electronic privacy is the name given to the protection of the content of one’s email from unauthorized inspection or access. In most countries, the constitution equates emails with letter. Therefore, under the secrecy of correspondence, the contents of one’s email are legally protected. The period within which emails are considered private varies depending on a country. The following analysis was conducted on demand of https://topwritingservice.com/.

However, email accounts are vulnerable to attacks, both active and passive. There are several ways through which emails can be tampered with. These include traffic analyses done in some countries, message modification, masquerading, spoofing and replying on previous messages, service denial and disclosure of information. Disclosure of information occurs when messages are being transmitted. Non-encryption of email messages would leave a loophole for undesignated individuals to read email contents.

The Case of Justin Mark Ellsworth

Justin Mark Ellsworth lost his life in attempt to disarm a homemade bomb in Iraq, on 13th November 2004. His military colleagues described him as being uncomplaining, cheery and willing to undertake tough duties. The brave marine gave his life for his country; hence, he deserves gratitude from every national.

An Oakland judge gave an order to Yahoo to hand over all contents of Justin Ellsworth’s email account to John, his father. John Ellsworth found more than 10,000 pages of photographs and messages. The attempt by Justin’s parents to gain access to his email account drew attention from across the nation. It is because there are many similar cases, where relatives want to access a deceased person’s personal email accounts, but this had been cast into the limelight so much.

After reading all the contents on the disc, the parents were not satisfied that it was all. Emails Justin had sent home were absent. The only emails they found were those they had sent Justin, spam messages from dating sites and mortgage companies, plus a few more messages from the people they did not know. It prompted John and Justin’s stepmother, Debbie, to demand the login details to Justin’s email account. Yahoo refused to give out Justin’s password, citing the fact that it would be a violation of the set privacy rules. It led to an uproar all over the internet, with most bloggers saying that they were ‘horrified’ by this. The whole situation raised numerous questions. One of them was as follows: who gets to see the email for the deceased? Indeed, the case has made people start critically analyzing the issue of email privacy in relation to the ethical perspective.

Should Justin’s Parents Have Been Allowed Access to His Email?

Every day, millions of email messages are sent over the internet. Most people nowadays have online journals, where they put private information. Social media has also become the order of the day. There are many social sites, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, just to mention a few. People use these sites to update their online ‘friends’ or their whereabouts, and upload photos. No one cares who is getting access to the accounts, since most of these ‘friends’ are complete strangers.

Every day many people die. Would anyone want their relatives to access personal emails? What would be done if the emails had been stored on an employer’s computer? Should we assign a friend to delete all personal emails in case we die? These are just but a few of the questions that need serious consideration. Almost everyone had an opinion regarding Justin’s case. Some opposed Yahoo’s move to withhold Justin’s password, while others seemed to think that the parents should have been given the password. Maybe this was out of compassion to the parents.

Justin Mark Ellsworth’s parents, John and Debbie, should not have been accorded access to his email account. Every individual is entitled to the right of privacy. When registering with Yahoo, Justin expected that the company would uphold their end of the deal. That is, to maintain the confidentiality. Justin must have had life outside the marine, and it would not be good for his parents if they found out some things, which they did not approve of. Instead of getting them closer to what they expected, this would hurt them.

Basing my argument on utilitarianism, the judge’s action of granting John and Debbie access did not give happiness to most people. It includes millions of people, who have Yahoo accounts. Instead, it gave happiness only to Justin’s parents, while leaving other Yahoo members concerned about what the future holds in regards to their privacy. If the parents wanted to know what their son was thinking, his phone calls and letters would be sufficient. If it was to let his contacts know that he had passed on, Yahoo would definitely give them the contacts.

The same rules should apply to everyone including me because I value my privacy. I would not want my parents to know what I wrote in my email messages. Both Yahoo and the courts should come together to ensure that the privacy policy is upheld. New policies should be developed to ensure that relatives of the deceased do not access private information. The Obama administration will be looking to toughen internet privacy rules. The only hope should be that the privacy of the deceased will be respected.

The case involving Yahoo and Justin’s parents had lots of emotions, but the underlying issue was about Justin’s privacy. The fact that he clicked on the terms of service indicates that Yahoo did not have the obligation to release his emails. In addition, Justin’s email account should have been deleted immediately, as soon as his death was confirmed. It would have prevented all the questions surrounding the case, as well as avoid putting Yahoo’s PR on the spotlight.


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