Thursday, December 23, 2004

Yahoo! Should Give E-mails to Family of Slain Marine

Wixom father wants war letters as a way to remember last words of son killed in Iraq

The Detroit News - Editorial

Yahoo! should give it up and give the late Justin Ellsworth's family access to his e-mail account. Ellsworth was a Marine who was killed last month while on patrol in Iraq's Al Anbar province. His family in suburban Wixom wants to save his outgoing and income e-mails as way to hang onto Ellsworth's last words. Before he died, Ellsworth is believed to have sent or received hundreds of e-mails to and from friends and relatives. One unique feature of the Iraq War is the ability to communicate to people back home directly from the front lines. However, Yahoo! is standing firm on its privacy policy and not allowing the family access to Ellsworth's e-mails. Time is critical because the e-mail account is now inactive and by Feb. 1 Yahoo! policy means the listing will be erased along with all the e-mails in it. There's a time and place for officious rule-keeping. But this isn't the time. The young Marine gave his life for his country, and his family is understandably eager to hang on to every memory. "I want to be able to remember him in his words," said John Ellsworth, Justin's father. "I know he thought he was doing what he needed to do. I want to have that for the future. "It's the last thing I have of my son." Lots of help has been offered, with ideas pouring in from lawyers and computer hackers alike. The hackers might make the legal issue moot. But Yahoo! still has an opportunity to step up and do the right thing. Some legal observers have given the Internet company an out, saying e-mail is part of Justin's personal property and would be the property now of his father, who has power of attorney over his son's estate. Such action might require a court order, which shouldn't be difficult to win.

Meanwhile, Yahoo! should shed the cold hearted poise. Stop sticking to the rules and work closer with the family toward a solution.



Last modified date and time: 04/28/2005 20:03

04/28/2005 20:06