Jul 18, 2017

Should Justin Ellsworth`s parents have been given access to his e-mail?

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ETH 301 Case: Information Privacy

INSTRUCTIONS:

If the law does not keep pace with technological developments (and it always seems to be at least one step behind), the consequences can be devastating, even in the seemingly simplest of things. What could be more technologically routine these days than e-mail? And yet ...

Justin Ellsworth was a Marine who gave his life for his country. By all accounts he was a brave and fine Marine, and we all owe him the highest debt of gratitude.

But we were also left with a serious question—what to do with his e-mail?

His parents wanted access. They wanted to see what their son had to say. However, e-mail is private, and Yahoo, his e-mail provider, had a terms-of-service agreement with him that guaranteed its privacy—even his death. And while we sympathize greatly with his parents, there is also a precedent to be concerned about. One can`t simply waive the privacy issue, as a decision to release the information could have serious consequences for e-mail privacy for us all.

Case Assignment

The issue needs to be discussed, thought through, and resolved. That is why we study cases like this, so we can think these things through and try to respect the family, the deceased, and the needs of society. So I ask you:

  • Should Justin Ellsworth`s parents have been given access to his e-mail?

Answer the question in 3 pages. Assess the issue with separate and thorough explanations of the utilitarian and deontological considerations.

Go to the Web and to the Trident online library and find as much as you can on this case.

You can read about it by going to ProQuest:

Leach, Susan L. (2005). Who gets to see the e-mail of the deceased? Christian Science Monitor, May 2, pg. 12.

Abstract

Many legal experts say Yahoo! acted correctly. It denied the family`s informal request and only yielded under court order.

"I would hope that the Yahoo! position here would become a trade practice—that e-mail would only be released if a judge approved it," says Gerald Ferrera, executive director of the Cyberlaw Center at Bentley College in Waltham, Mass.

CONTENT:

Running Head: INFORMATIONAL PRIVACY Module 2 – Case Assignment Informational Privacy Student Name: Professor Name: Submission Date: Informational Privacy Should Justin Ellsworth`s parents have been given access to his e-mail? This question will be the primary focus of this essay. To answer this question, the issue will be assessed with separate and thorough explanations of the utilitarian and deontological considerations. Definitions of these philosophical perspectives are provided before an ethical answer to the question can be given. John Stuart Mill (1861/1957) described utilitarianism as the “common-sense morality which we all learn as children… represent[ing] the accumulated wisdom of mankind about the desirable and undesirable consequences of actions” (in Schneewind, 1993, p. 152). Utilitarianism bases decisions on maximizing positive outcomes and minimizing negative outcomes for the greatest number of people. This type of consideration for determining what is right and wrong can be used without much training in philosophy (Borowski, 1998) because it uses a cost-benefit analysis calculation that is naturally occurring within most people (Gandz & Hayes, 1988). Classic utilitarianism is, first and foremost, a standard for judging public action. By design, its purpose is to maximize utility, or “the good… consist[ing] essentially in

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