Originally posted 2009-04-13 12:35:01. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
It’s [coming up on] Passover, and as Jewish tradition teaches, the Exodus implicates issues of resurrection — of which there’s been a lot at LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION® lately!
First we had the update on an early LOC item, the Gibson guitar case.
Now further developments related to “I read dead people’s email,” the attempt by parents of an Iraq war casualty to get to the content of his email account, which was one of the very first items posted on this blog. It was subsequently updated with developments here. In the original post, I wrote this:
I say that absent a specific compelling reason to get the email information — i.e., the location of his will or the buried treasure or something like that — it should die with the man. And, considering that, I would also require that the information ultimately revealed be narrowly-tailored as well. The court in camera, or a special master, or another neutral person should fetch the relevant information and then Yahoo! should blow taps on the account. A hero is entitled to die with his privacy and his secrets intact.
Well, just as everything email becomes something bloggy after a few years, now Eric Goldman reports that someone is suing Blogspot to remove a dead blogger’s allegedly defamatory blog content. Two key points he raises:
On the face of it, the lawsuit is clearly preempted by 47 USC 230, and Google ought to get a quick and unambiguous win. However, there are some lurking policy issues about dealing with online content posted by now-deceased individuals:
* Presumably the content and the account passed through Healy’s estate. Even if there was no “probate estate,” whatever that means, there is still a legal protocol for succession of Healy’s assets–including the copyrights in his blog. So someone now owns Healy’s blog, and it should be possible to determine who that is.
* Even if the legal rights have been allocated, taking control over a deceased accountholder’s account is not always easy. The last time I recall this issue being discussed, it was in the context of taking control over deceased military personnel’s email accounts. Online providers have different policies about how to deal with this–and for good reason, as too loose a policy could enable account hijacking, plus there may be concerns about the deceased accountholder’s privacy. I wonder what Blogspot’s policy is. This issue won’t come up often, but it will definitely come up again.
Yes — as I told you, we call that resurrection!