Thursday, February 03, 2005

Digital Privacy of Fallen Soldiers

I'm annoyed at the parents suing to get access to their dead children's email accounts and websites. They are piggy-backing on the emotional trauma of soldiers dying in Iraq to invade their childrens privacy for their own benefit.

The families claim that digital access should pass to the next of kin just like letters, clothes and high school soccer balls. But letters, clothes and soccer balls are out in the open and don't constitute a privacy issue. Doesn't a person have a right to some degree of privacy even after death? What if a fallen soldier had personal videos of sex with his wife? Doesn't he have a right to expect that his parents will never see it? What if a fallen soldier hated his parents? What a tragic final insult to then give the hated parents access to all his personal information.

Take the case, for example, of Karl Linn who died in Iraq last week. His father, Richard Linn, is trying to get access to Karl's email accounts and websites. If Karl wanted his parents to have access to his private emails, why didn't he leave his password with his parents in case he died? He could have left his password in a sealed envelope addressed to his parents among his personal effects at his station in Iraq. After his death, his parents get all his personal effects and the problem is solved and no one's privacy is invaded. As far as his website goes, any pages of the website that the parents had access to could easily be downloaded and saved permanently. Why do the parents need access to anymore than this?

I'm ashamed of these parents trying to use the courts to get access to their dead childrens private and personal files. If they want to honor their dead children, how about they start by honoring their dead children's privacy!


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