More on Email Privacy for the Dead

The New York Times (linked to by Drudge) has an article entitled The Secret Lives of Just About Everybody which opens, compellingly, as follows:

One mislaid credit card bill or a single dangling e-mail message on the home computer would have ended everything: the marriage, the big-time career, the reputation for decency he had built over a lifetime.

So for more than 10 years, he ruthlessly kept his two identities apart: one lived in a Westchester hamlet and worked in a New York office, and the other operated mainly in clubs, airport bars and brothels. One warmly greeted clients and waved to neighbors, sometimes only hours after the other had stumbled back from a “work” meeting with prostitutes or cocaine dealers.

In the end, it was a harmless computer pop-up advertisement for security software, claiming that his online life was being “continually monitored,” that sent this New York real estate developer into a panic and to a therapist.

You have to admit that you would think such a high-flyer (a high-flying jerk, albeit) would be a little more savvy about those “spyware” warnings on the pop-up circuit, but perhaps when you’re enduring the stress of the double life, all it takes is a hiccup for the whole thing to unravel. The Times article is not really about electronic privacy; it is more concerned with the eternal question, in modern guise, of “who is the real me?” — and to what ends will a person go to avoid answering that question.

Not a topic for this blog. But on the matter, blogged earlier, of post-mortem rights to passwords, it is hard to imagine that this poor chap, who made it all the way through that exquisite and wicked double life, would want his heirs opening up that electronic Pandora’s box. (Of course you may well ask, aren’t his heirs “entitled” to know the truth at some point? Well, do you think the missus would be happier with, or without, that information?)

On the other hand, guys living that kind of existence probably don’t think that often about making it all the way through — they either assume they’ll live forever, or never think about the future at all.

One would imagine. You are reading the blog of a pretty square cat, after all.


By Ron Coleman

I write this blog.

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