The divide between the law and human ethics has been a rather blurred one, with many people wondering where the dividing line ought to be drawn (Rowland, 2005). For on the one hand the law ought to be obeyed and not questioned as it is the supreme authority of the country; yet on the other hand ethical considerations, especially in cases where the law is silent, ought to be considered too. For many are the times when the law has failed to be of any use because it is either obsolete due to age or it just does not take into account changes in life.
Technological advancement is one area where the law has totally failed to keep up pace with new issues that emerge with the result that it has been difficult, even impossible, to have sound decisions on matters of technology (Rowland, 2005). This paper considers a case of information privacy from the point of view of the parents of a naval officer whose emails they cannot access after his death. Discussion Justin Ellsworth’s Parents ought to have been allowed access to their son’s emails because of a number of reasons. The first one is that according to the utilitarian theory, this is a man who had done so much for his nation (Rowland, 2005).
He had given his own life in exchange for the lives of many other Americans whom he sought to protect from their enemies. He literally died serving his nation. In this case he was of great use and value to the nation. On this basis, the parents, who are his next of kin, ought to have been allowed to access his emails. One thing is critical in this entire case – the parents do not merely want access their son’s email but want to do this for a good reason. The reason is that he died away in battle unexpectedly and so left no final word to them.
They are obligated to know what their son might have though or said prior to his death so they might understand his possible feelings then. Secondly, as people who are bereft of their son, these parents can probably be little comforted in sharing in the feelings of their son – feelings they can only get if they are able to access his email. Finally, it is worth considering the alternative – if they are not allowed access, they will probably be less happy, develop negative attitudes towards the authorities and the law enforcement agencies, and most likely even develop a hatred for any form of government service.
They might even engage in dissuading other people from ever considering to be patriotic based on their own experience that patriotism is never rewarded. The eventuality could be that fewer people would be wiling to enlist as servicemen and women in the country’s naval forces. The reason is that their son as not treated with the worth he deserved. Finally, the emails will be of no use to anyone else after all so keeping them or deleting when someone desperately them is essentially despising the person. Deontological ethical considerations require that everything be done in accordance with the law (Rowland, 2005).
On this basis, it is all right for Justin Ellsworth’s Parents to be denied access to the emails belonging to their son. And privacy law is one that ought not to be broken at all because breaking it is both an offence as unethical. Imagine accessing the secret thoughts of a mature person. This is a person who, unlike a child, could express himself. If he had any information intended for parents he must have send it over. Above all, else, he entered into agreement with Yahoo not to disclose his personal information. This contract is binding for as long as his account is not terminated.
Such information may never be shared or disclosed to third parties regardless of their closeness to him. It is about obligation, duty, and responsibility. Not every law is popular with all people; but the law is designed to serve mankind and not mankind to serve the law (Rowland, 2005). This in essence means that the law or a duty or an obligation that one party has towards another cannot be changed just like that. Agreements are binding legally and can only be nullified or revoked by mutual agreement between the parties to the agreement. So, as long as the law requires that there is no access, there ought to be no access.
It is a universal law and is also fair – granting justice to the offender and the offended as well. In fact acting in the right way morally is only possible when the actors are made to have a sense of duty and responsibility. Without such a sense, they will tend to be less concerned (Rowland, 2005). Conclusion The difference between utilitarian and deontological approaches to life issues is that while the former justifies an act based on its inherent worth or utility, the latter purely bases the worth of an issue on its ability to adhere to ethical or moral issues which in turn are brought about by having a sense of duty.
This means that the argument as to whether or not Justin Ellsworth’s Parents ought to have been allowed to gain access to their son’s emails is dependent on which side of the two theories one is considering. If it is the deontological one, then they ought not to be allowed it is against the law; but if it is utilitarianism then they deserve to be allowed for Justin Ellsworth was of great value to the country.
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Topic: Informational Privacy
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