Erini Doss and Michael C. Loui
After reviewing legal and philosophical definitions of privacy and their justifications, it is considered whether electronic mail (e-mail) should be private. In itself, e-mail is inexpensive, quick, and convenient. In contrast with the telephone, the recipient of an e-mail message need not be available when the sender initiates the message. Also, most e-mail users assume that their messages are confidential, that the contents of their messages are read only by the intended recipients. Currently, most universities treat e-mail as private, and most corporations do not. Federal and state laws protect the privacy of e-mail only in public networks. In particular, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act does not protect e-mail in private networks. It is concluded that e-mail should be private everywhere, for ethical reasons.
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