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[P]
Could your email get you committed?

By mdxi in News
Thu May 04, 2000 at 12:10:21 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

I was reading through MacInTouch, a Mac news site, and down at the bottom of the page was a link to this story in the Boston Globe. It's a story about a NY university student who was arrested and committed to Belvue mental hospital on the basis of some email his roommates read on his PC and showed to school authorities. I can't help but wonder how the outcome might have differed had it been postal mail instead of email. Frightening stuff.


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Could your email get you committed? | 58 comments (58 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Fix the link. That's not why I gave... (3.00 / 2) (#8)
by Velian on Wed May 03, 2000 at 06:36:35 PM EST

Velian voted 0 on this story.

Fix the link. That's not why I gave a 0, btw.

Re: Fix the link. That's not why I gave... (none / 0) (#31)
by mdxi on Thu May 04, 2000 at 02:52:52 AM EST

To all the "fix the link" comments: I did close the link tag properly, and I did preview before posting, and clicked the link in the preview to make sure everything was correct. I don't know why the final posted version originally had the training </a> missing.

--
SYN SYN NAK
[ Parent ]
I was going to submit this, but I s... (1.00 / 1) (#5)
by evro on Wed May 03, 2000 at 06:46:31 PM EST

evro voted -1 on this story.

I was going to submit this, but I saw that it mentions Jon Katz, and I didn't think anybody here would be able to stomach that. I don't think I can. He has his own site.
---
"Asking me who to follow -- don't ask me, I don't know!"

First of all, fix the links. ... (none / 0) (#7)
by mike on Wed May 03, 2000 at 07:11:50 PM EST

mike voted 1 on this story.

First of all, fix the links. This kind of crap is ludicrous, and unfortunately what we are seeing more and more of. It's not a problem with email or technology itself, but the piece-of-crap society in which we (at least most of us) dwell.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
mike

Your HTML is showing...at least it ... (1.00 / 1) (#10)
by End on Wed May 03, 2000 at 07:14:27 PM EST

End voted 1 on this story.

Your HTML is showing...at least it was when I voted...

-JD

Whoa... heavy article there. Over a... (none / 0) (#13)
by SDrifter on Wed May 03, 2000 at 07:34:59 PM EST

SDrifter voted 1 on this story.

Whoa... heavy article there. Over at my college, on my floor we've had people going behind their roommates backs, but never anything like this. It's disturbing to consider that kind of lack of trust and respect for people you live with. Another reason to use encryption whenever possible, I'd imagine. (Oh, and I think that you forgot the closing tags for your links.)
--
It burns!!!
It's loaded with wasabi!

So what you wrote can get people to... (3.00 / 1) (#9)
by Zarniwoop on Wed May 03, 2000 at 07:49:13 PM EST

Zarniwoop voted 0 on this story.

So what you wrote can get people to worry about you, to the point of committing you to a mental hostpital? Been happening for quite some time- even in high school creative writing we were warned that anything that made them suspicious of suicidal intentions or insanity would be turned in. Is it rather scary? Yeah, but nothing new here- just a new medium for the same old stuff.

Re: So what you wrote can get people to... (2.00 / 1) (#25)
by your_desired_username on Thu May 04, 2000 at 01:04:17 AM EST

I recieved similar warnings. Worried about how my work might be judged, I chose to submit nothing. This kind of paranoia comes with a price.

[ Parent ]
Blah. This is so dumb.This has noth... (1.00 / 1) (#19)
by haiku san on Wed May 03, 2000 at 08:01:44 PM EST

haiku san voted -1 on this story.

Blah. This is so dumb.
This has nothing to do with
anything we like.

Re: Blah. This is so dumb.This has noth... (none / 0) (#34)
by Anonymous Hero on Thu May 04, 2000 at 08:17:50 AM EST

And who is "we"? Is this another desperate attempt to build a "geek collective". If you expect a site to post 10 stories a day, ALL to your liking, well then you have very high expectations.

That "we" crap is just a pet peeve of mine. Even before the borg came.

Lastly, really am anonymous here - not a selective registrant.

[ Parent ]
Re: Blah. This is so dumb.This has noth... (1.00 / 1) (#45)
by haiku san on Thu May 04, 2000 at 12:09:47 PM EST

We is the royal we.

[ Parent ]
Re: Blah. This is so dumb.This has noth... (1.00 / 1) (#36)
by dvicci on Thu May 04, 2000 at 09:09:46 AM EST

Speak for yourself... I happened to find this story both intriguing and frightening.

[ Parent ]
Re: Blah. This is so dumb.This has noth... (none / 0) (#44)
by haiku san on Thu May 04, 2000 at 12:09:29 PM EST

I was speakng for myself. This account happens to be read by two people who were both in the room at the time of posting. So there.

[ Parent ]
Re: Blah. This is so dumb.This has noth... (none / 0) (#47)
by rusty on Thu May 04, 2000 at 01:36:27 PM EST

I thought it was pretty funny. Will all your votes be in the form of haiku, haiku-san?

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Note, though, that it was his frien... (5.00 / 1) (#4)
by Dacta on Wed May 03, 2000 at 08:04:02 PM EST

Dacta voted 1 on this story.

Note, though, that it was his friends that were scared of him. Maybe he was unstable - the people who knew him best thought so. I realize everyone will say "Oh no, more victimisation!", but I'm not too sure here. What are you supposed to do if you think one of your friends is about to go crazy with a gun?

Re: Note, though, that it was his frien... (5.00 / 1) (#22)
by techt on Thu May 04, 2000 at 12:50:55 AM EST

Please reread the article. They were not his friends, they were his assigned roomates -- acquaintances -- who only knew him for a couple months. They did not know him well and they did not get along.

On a slightly related note he should have seeked legal advice. Email needs the same privacy protections as parcel mail and unfortunately this will require legal intervention.
--
Proud member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation!
Are You? http://www.eff.org/support/joineff.html
[ Parent ]

This just disturbs me greatly. Esp... (5.00 / 1) (#6)
by fluffy grue on Wed May 03, 2000 at 08:04:35 PM EST

fluffy grue voted 1 on this story.

This just disturbs me greatly. Especially when they brought in Jon Katz for his "expert" opinion. :P
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]

Re: This just disturbs me greatly. Esp... (none / 0) (#20)
by Zarniwoop on Thu May 04, 2000 at 12:41:47 AM EST

Thats the part that got me too. Whenever Katz is cited in an article, no matter what the logic and how qualified, I always have this urge to shout "RUN AWAY!!!" ...

Heh. Yet Another Slashdot Refugee here :)

[ Parent ]
Re: This just disturbs me greatly. Esp... (none / 0) (#21)
by skim123 on Thu May 04, 2000 at 12:46:39 AM EST

This just disturbs me greatly. Especially when they brought in Jon Katz for his "expert" opinion

Isn't he the most qualified to cast an opinion on the matter? After all, doesn't he speak for all of us misunderstood/loner/computer geeks?

heavy sarcasm, if you couldn't tell...

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
In my opinion the right thing was d... (3.66 / 3) (#3)
by skim123 on Wed May 03, 2000 at 08:14:54 PM EST

skim123 voted 1 on this story.

In my opinion the right thing was done. If someone finds threatening letters (emails, writings, etc.), they have a duty to report them to the proper authorities.

Now, I know many will complain, saying they invaded his privacy, but where do you draw the line? It's a very gray area. I suspect many will argue that they his room mates shouldn't have been reading his email (which they shouldn't have), and, even if they saw that, they shouldn't have turned him in.

But I ask you, what if he had written similar words on the front of his apartment door? What if you were his neighbor, you would call the police. Of course you would. Now, what if he had written those words on the wall inside his apartment and, one day, as you were walking past his apartment you looked in through the window and saw those words scrated up on the wall. Would you call the police. Probably, hopefully. I would.

When people make threats toward harming themselves or others, we, as members of society, have a duty to let the proper authorities know, for the safety of ourselves and others.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


Re: In my opinion the right thing was d... (none / 0) (#24)
by your_desired_username on Thu May 04, 2000 at 01:01:08 AM EST

Note that the email in question was sent to a friend; it was clearly a couple of in jokes. Not threats.

[ Parent ]
Re: In my opinion the right thing was d... (none / 0) (#38)
by skim123 on Thu May 04, 2000 at 11:48:15 AM EST

Note that the email in question was sent to a friend; it was clearly a couple of in jokes. Not threats.

Jokes? You find statements like "''I want to go out and shoot as many people as I can and then shoot myself to even the number" funny? Sounds pretty damn threatening to me.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Re: In my opinion the right thing was d... (none / 0) (#43)
by CodeWright on Thu May 04, 2000 at 12:06:41 PM EST

You find statements like "''I want to go out and shoot as many people as I can and then shoot myself to even the number" funny? Sounds pretty damn threatening to me.

Well, I can't speak for anyone else, but I don't find them funny. Nevertheless, I feel far more threatened by a statement that another poster made, namely:

Personally, I think if you show the signs, you wear the jacket. I don't care what medium you use to express your insanity.

Given that kind of attitude, even if the person who said it happens to share similar values to me, if his statement were to hold true for everyone, I can guarantee that what one person feels are "signs" is another person's normal way-of-life.

In other words, espousing that attitude means that every community is justified in persecuting and lynching anyone who happens to act differently (Salem, anyone?).



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Re: In my opinion the right thing was d... (none / 0) (#49)
by skim123 on Thu May 04, 2000 at 02:32:24 PM EST

Anyone who acts differently in such a way that they pose a threat to themselves or others does need to be dealt with.

For example, if your way of being "unique" is to walk around town with a bomb taped to your chest, yes, society has a right to step in and take appropraite actions. If your way of expression is to make threats, then, yes, society has a right to deal with you in a way so that society feels safe.

If I was a student at that university, I would be pleased with two things:

  • The students turned in their room mate's threatening email
  • The university reported it to the authorities.

Granted, this was a case where the university was over-precautious. But I ask you this: what would we be discussing right now if the university hadn't done anything, and this guy was dangerous and went out and shot a bunch of classmates? What would we be saying about his room mates who had seen the emails, but had not done anything about them?

The right thing was done here, in my opinion. If you are going to make threats toward society, don't be surprised when society comes to protect itself from you. There's nothing wrong with being different, just don't threaten harm to yourself or others.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Re: In my opinion the right thing was d... (none / 0) (#54)
by CodeWright on Fri May 05, 2000 at 07:44:04 AM EST

For example, if your way of being "unique" is to walk around town with a bomb taped to your chest, yes, society has a right to step in and take appropraite actions. If your way of expression is to make threats, then, yes, society has a right to deal with you in a way so that society feels safe.

By that justification, if someone's way of being "unique" is to be an open homosexual, then someone else who considers an "open" homosexual as "threatening" is perfectly justified in having "society" (jethro & the boys) step in and take appropriate actions (beat them to a pulp).

In the universe you have described there is no such thing as free expression, because any exercise of free expression could be considered "threatening" to some portion of society and would be reacted to harshly.



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Re: In my opinion the right thing was d... (none / 0) (#57)
by skim123 on Fri May 05, 2000 at 02:01:03 PM EST

By that justification, if someone's way of being "unique" is to be an open homosexual, then someone else who considers an "open" homosexual as "threatening" is perfectly justified in having "society" (jethro & the boys) step in and take appropriate actions (beat them to a pulp).

Society decides what is threatening, not Jethro and the boys.

In the universe you have described there is no such thing as free expression, because any exercise of free expression could be considered "threatening" to some portion of society and would be reacted to harshly

The universe I described is the university we live in! Walk around town with a bomb showing, or stand in the middle of main street and yell out threats to harm passerbys. I guarantee you that you will be detained by the authorities.

Feel free to express yourself however you want solongas your views don't threaten my life. Creating a Web site that says, "Abortion is wrong" is one thing, protected by the first amendment; creating a Web site that says, "I am going to kill these abortion doctors: Bob Smith, ..." is a threat to others and will be taken down. (Did you hear about that abortion Web site a year or so ago that was taken down and the web master punished? It had a list of abortion doctors names and an X through those who had already been murdered by anti-abortionists.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Re: In my opinion the right thing was d... (4.70 / 3) (#29)
by mattc on Thu May 04, 2000 at 01:36:19 AM EST

The ultimate in hypocrisy in this story was:

One of the roommates (who, out of concern for privacy, asked that his name not be used),

LOL! But it is perfectly fine for him to have his roommate hauled off to the mental hospital and to tell reporters stories about it!! I guess concern for privacy doesn't apply when it is someone else's privacy you're invading. hehe

Anyway, in reply to your post, I think there is quite a big difference between writing something on your door and writing something in a personal letter to a friend. Obviously, someone writing on a door is trying to call attention to themselves. Someone writing a letter to a friend expects a certain amount of privacy.

During my 'teen angst' stage (and I'm sure other Kuro5hiners can relate), I wrote very similar things to what this guy had written.. although my stuff was mostly poetry. Anyway, despite my imaginings of suicide, blood, and death, I was not seriously thinking of committing suicide (I was just a very depressed kid). During this time I made friends online (this was before the internet was really big) and they helped me out of the awful situation I was in, thus making my life much better. Now, if one of them had seen some of my crazy rantings and decided that I should be sent off to the mental hospital, I think my life would have turned out much worse than it is today.

Really, I'm tired of the attitude in this society that if someone behaves just a little bit different than their classmates or friends they should be drugged up and marked 'ill.' IMO, it does more harm than good. Don't misunderstand me -- I know there are some cases where medication and mental hospitalization are the only options -- but I think it is vastly overused in this society. I think a lot of depression has to do more with one's life situation than chemical disorders.

[ Parent ]

Re: In my opinion the right thing was d... (4.00 / 1) (#37)
by CodeWright on Thu May 04, 2000 at 11:21:14 AM EST

But I ask you, what if he had written similar words on the front of his apartment door? What if you were his neighbor, you would call the police. Of course you would.

ummmmmm, no.

I don't know if the sentiment you expressed is a peculiarly urban one, or American, but in either case, as it applies to me personally, I would have to disagree.

I think that there should be a strong distinction between pre-emptive and post-fact action on the part of authorities. In other words -- someone should not even be "put on trial" for a crime until one has been committed -- "innocent until proven guilty".

With all that in mind, I wouldn't call the police until he started shooting -- and, to head off possible arguments at the pass -- if I had been one of his roomates, I would have sat down and talked to him about the stuff LONG before I brought someone else into the mix. First off, if I was aware that a roomate of mine had a firearm, I would do my best to ascertain if they were properly educated in firearm safety -- and if they were not, I would take it upon myself to show them proper firearm safety & cleaning procedures (using it as an opportunity to gauge their actual mental state, at least as far as a personal risk assessment).



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Re: In my opinion the right thing was d... (3.00 / 1) (#41)
by skim123 on Thu May 04, 2000 at 11:54:24 AM EST

I don't know if the sentiment you expressed is a peculiarly urban one, or American, but in either case, as it applies to me personally, I would have to disagree

Maybe it is an urban/American thing. Persoanlly, if somenoe is wearing a sign around their neck saying "Die motherfucker, die," the last thing I am going to do is walk up to them and ask them how they are doing!

In other words -- someone should not even be "put on trial" for a crime until one has been committed -- "innocent until proven guilty".

It's different with mental illness, though. There are laws (here in the States, at least) that people can be forcably institutionalized if they pose an immediate threat to themselves or others. In fact, mental health professionals have a legal duty to commit those who pose such a threat. For example, if a mental health professional is asked to evaluate a person (perhaps their room mates found threatening emails) and the professional finds the person to be a threat to himself or others, the professional must have the person committed. If they don't, they can get sued if the person they evaluated later goes on a shooting spree.

Granted, this case may not have been the severe, and they may have jumped the gun on committing the poor fellow, but better to be safe than sorry.

With the times we live in we can't take such threats trivially.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Re: In my opinion the right thing was d... (none / 0) (#46)
by CodeWright on Thu May 04, 2000 at 01:34:30 PM EST

Maybe it is an urban/American thing. Persoanlly, if somenoe is wearing a sign around their neck saying "Die motherfucker, die," the last thing I am going to do is walk up to them and ask them how they are doing!

Well, this is a slight aside, but I would probably (personally) be amused by someone who had a sign that read "Die motherfucker, die" -- and if the choice was between talking to that person and a person wearing a "hug the earth" shirt, or a person in a suit, I'd pick the "die" guy every time.

Again, though, that's just a matter of personal preference. :)

In fact, mental health professionals have a legal duty to commit those who pose such a threat

There are a near infinite number of "legal duties" that lawmakers impose on their belabored citizens all the time. It is your "legal duty" to turn people in for committing adultery. In some places it is your "legal duty" to turn people in because they spit on the sidewalk, or drank beer on a Sunday.

Just because something is a LAW, doesn't mean it is RIGHT. In terms of justifying a moral argument, it doesn't suffice.

Granted, this case may not have been the severe, and they may have jumped the gun on committing the poor fellow, but better to be safe than sorry.

I believe it was Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) who said "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety".

With the times we live in we can't take such threats trivially.

LOL! In actuality, modern Americans live in some of the safest times EVER in human history!

Try living in medieval Europe or Asia (or modern Zimbabwe) where life is cheap and there is no consequence to murder.

It is because we (as moderns) are so safe that lawmakers and busybodies need to keep dreaming up more "threats to the public welfare" so that they can justify their expenditures, programs, and (especially dear to their hearts) control.



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Re: In my opinion the right thing was d... (none / 0) (#50)
by skim123 on Thu May 04, 2000 at 02:38:37 PM EST

I believe it was Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) who said "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety".

Nice quote, but I doubt Franklin would agree that the right to threaten harm to others is an "essential liberty." We all make a social contract, giving up certain rights to protect others. For example, we give up our right to steal so that (in theory) others won't steal from us. Likewise, we give up our right to make harmful threats to others so that similar threats won't be made against us.

You say that you are all for this, but how do you think you would feel if someone targetted you for their threats? What if you were living with a guy who had pages of text reading, "I want to kill everyone." Fuck, I'd be scared, and, yes, I'd call the police. Quickly.

In actuality, modern Americans live in some of the safest times EVER in human history

I wasn't comparing the current state to the history of mankind. Rather to the history of the US.

It is because we (as moderns) are so safe that lawmakers and busybodies need to keep dreaming up more "threats to the public welfare" so that they can justify their expenditures, programs, and (especially dear to their hearts) control

Again, I argue that you are taking a very non-sympathetic approach. I know you would sing a different tune if anything remotely similar to this happened to you, personally.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Re: In my opinion the right thing was d... (none / 0) (#55)
by CodeWright on Fri May 05, 2000 at 08:14:18 AM EST

You say that you are all for this, but how do you think you would feel if someone targetted you for their threats? What if you were living with a guy who had pages of text reading, "I want to kill everyone." Fuck, I'd be scared, and, yes, I'd call the police. Quickly.

Actually, when I went to college, I did live with a roomate who started sliding further and further into depression, and frequently started saying and writing things like that. I tried to spend as much time with them as possible, trying to help them work through their problems, but it eventually got to the stage where I was afraid he would kill himself and/or hurt me in my sleep.

So I just temporarily moved out of the apartment to let the dude stew in his own juices for a while. After a month of sleeping in under library tables, in computer labs, and eating at all night Denny's, I heard that he ended up committing himself to a mental institution -- so I moved back to my apartment.

Note, I never called the cops or the guys with the white jackets, or anyone for that matter.

Again, I argue that you are taking a very non-sympathetic approach. I know you would sing a different tune if anything remotely similar to this happened to you, personally.

Oh, you know, do you? You don't know me at all.

If you are frightened by someone, then remove yourself from their sphere of influence. Problem solved.

Note, I put my money where my mouth is, because that is exactly what I did in the situation described.

By removing yourself from the range at which someone else can adversely effect you, you have done what is necessary to prevent violence against your person.

The next issue you might raise is: "Well, it's all well and good for me to protect myself, but what about the other people he could hurt? What about them? What about the children?" <NOTE: strawman alert> <NOTE on NOTE: argument self-criticism alert>

To which my answer is this: You are free to go tell "other people" what you think about someone -- but they are just as welcome to do the same about you. Unfounded assertions go both ways -- if you can make the funny farm guys come for someone else, someone else can make the funny farm guys come for you (noting, of course, that the "funny farm guys" are a way to exert unilateral force by proxy against someone else).



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Re: In my opinion the right thing was d... (none / 0) (#58)
by skim123 on Fri May 05, 2000 at 02:03:28 PM EST

How would you have felt if you had heard that your room mate snapped and ended up shooting a handful of innocent people before killing himself?

While I don't know you, I'd bet you would feel remorse for not having mentioned something to the authorities... Hmmm... or maybe not, after all, no harm would have come to your person.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
I have received email (and threaten... (5.00 / 1) (#17)
by drdink on Wed May 03, 2000 at 09:21:44 PM EST

drdink voted 1 on this story.

I have received email (and threatening phone calls, sicne I was stupid enough to have my home phone # in my NSI contact information) from person(s) that I would consider candiates to be committed. Personally, I think if you show the signs, you wear the jacket. I don't care what medium you use to express your insanity.

Re: I have received email (and threaten... (none / 0) (#23)
by your_desired_username on Thu May 04, 2000 at 12:58:06 AM EST

Where do you draw the line between 'showing the signs' and merely being different? To me, the quotes from the email of the victim all read like jokes.

[ Parent ]
domain registration (none / 0) (#27)
by mattc on Thu May 04, 2000 at 01:08:37 AM EST

If you register your domain name with Christmas Island, .CX, there is an option to keep your contact information hidden from public view. This is one reason why I am using CX to host my domain .. it is good to see at least -some- companies respect privacy.

[ Parent ]
I would be gone if I had to conform... (5.00 / 1) (#1)
by davidu on Wed May 03, 2000 at 09:31:32 PM EST

davidu voted 1 on this story.

I would be gone if I had to conform to Dorm Rules :)

Ye gods, what will they think of ne... (5.00 / 1) (#14)
by warpeightbot on Wed May 03, 2000 at 09:32:51 PM EST

warpeightbot voted 1 on this story.

Ye gods, what will they think of next?

I don't know how much of this is yellow journalism and how much is just how far gone the Imperial Federal Government and its state lackeys have gotten, but this needs thrashing out... either it's a ho-ax and needs exposing, or it's true, and we need to pass the ammo....

Re: Ye gods, what will they think of ne... (none / 0) (#40)
by CodeWright on Thu May 04, 2000 at 11:50:38 AM EST

<puts on flame retardant clothes>

Using your metaphor...


                ...pass the ammo...



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Make sure other people can't read y... (5.00 / 1) (#12)
by sergent on Wed May 03, 2000 at 09:46:24 PM EST

sergent voted 1 on this story.

Make sure other people can't read your email by just idly snooping around your disk...

Also it seems like there are some electronic privacy laws that the roommates technically violated... nothing in the article about that. Anyone more knowledgable about the details of those laws?

Or perhaps the lesson is just that we should all be using strong crypto for all of our email.



Hell Windows NT could of prevented this... (none / 0) (#35)
by Anonymous Hero on Thu May 04, 2000 at 08:22:49 AM EST

Hell Windows NT could of prevented this. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for encryption. But running 'nix or NT OS that is designed for multiple users is essential for privacy.

This poor sap was nice enough to let his roommates use his computer and they abused that priviledge. However, had the roommates a seperate login, this could have been avoided.

[ Parent ]
One more reason to use PGP I suppos... (3.66 / 3) (#15)
by kovacsp on Wed May 03, 2000 at 09:50:53 PM EST

kovacsp voted 1 on this story.

One more reason to use PGP I suppose. Keep our mail in envelopes!

Is it possible for Jon Katz and Col... (none / 0) (#16)
by nicktamm on Wed May 03, 2000 at 10:12:49 PM EST

nicktamm voted 0 on this story.

Is it possible for Jon Katz and Columbine to *not* be mentioned in the same article? I don't know, from the quotes in the story it sounds like it might have been a good idea to investigate, but those quotes are out of context. Plus I think they went a bit overboard. If this had been postal letters, I think the outcome might have been more drastic. After all, it takes more effort to write a letter, and if he had written several letters discussing killing himself and others, it might have been taken even more seriously by others. Of course I don't think he would have made photocopies of the letters he sent, so I don't know how his roommates would have discovered what he wrote. In cases like this, Hotmail is actually more secure than a regular POP3 account :)
Nick Tamm nick-k5@echorequest.net http://www.nicktamm.org

All the more reason to use PGP/GPG/... (5.00 / 1) (#11)
by enthalpyX on Wed May 03, 2000 at 10:13:19 PM EST

enthalpyX voted 1 on this story.

All the more reason to use PGP/GPG/whatever.

Most grist for the privacy debates.... (5.00 / 1) (#18)
by adamsc on Wed May 03, 2000 at 10:28:18 PM EST

adamsc voted 1 on this story.

Most grist for the privacy debates. I thought it was interesting that the university cited the privacy laws when refusing to comment; evidentally those laws don't prevent them from having you committed. It was particularly disappointing to see the actions taken on the basis of some email when email is so trivially forged.

Well, I'm commenting so +1 ... (5.00 / 1) (#2)
by FlinkDelDinky on Wed May 03, 2000 at 11:30:09 PM EST

FlinkDelDinky voted 1 on this story.

Well, I'm commenting so +1

I can understand the over-reaction. And like the guy said, you can't unlearn info. Since this came from a Mac type perhaps it could have been avoided with the new Mac OS based on Unix that's do out soon.

I think user accounts are the best way to allow friends on your computer. Of course, you can snoop on them, break out gpg!

Re: Could your email get you committed? (4.00 / 2) (#26)
by your_desired_username on Thu May 04, 2000 at 01:06:10 AM EST

As our privacy continues to disappear, the unpopular will suffer.

Getting Committed for your thoughts is even scarie (4.33 / 3) (#28)
by Commienst on Thu May 04, 2000 at 01:15:47 AM EST

Psychiatrists at least here in the states commit people for sucicidal thoughts all the time. The psychiatrist asks you if you ever thought of killing yourself and if you say yes later on they will use it against you if behavior is what they deem as abnormal. In my opinion everyone when they are at a low point in their life has thought about committing sucicide and if you have not then you have had a life much easier then the rest of us.

There is a fine line between thinking of doing something and doing something. Your thoughts disclosed to a psychiatrist being used against you is a lot worse than this email incident. If you thoughts could be used against you then I am guilty of thinking of robbing the bank, killing my brother, raping a couple of women, killing Elain Gonzalez.

Re: Getting Committed for your thoughts is even sc (none / 0) (#42)
by Mrs Edna Graustein on Thu May 04, 2000 at 12:02:21 PM EST

I don't live in the states, but isn't there something called Doctor- Patient confidentiality?

Anyway, there is not a fine line between thought and action in most cases- it is a line bigger than the great wall of China in my opinion- although vocalising those thoughts may be considered an action.

Do you think we could arrest the /. trolls for turning Natalie Portman into a statue? :-)
--
And if any of you put that in a .sig, I'll hunt you down and kill you twice. ;-)
Rusty
[ Parent ]

Re: Could your email get you committed? (3.00 / 2) (#30)
by GreenEagle on Thu May 04, 2000 at 02:48:56 AM EST

> Frightening stuff.

If you're an idiot bad stuff will happen to you anyway, what's so frightening about that.


OT. what's the point of queue moderation when everything gets posted ?


Moderation work. (3.00 / 1) (#32)
by Inoshiro on Thu May 04, 2000 at 04:24:25 AM EST

"OT. what's the point of queue moderation when everything gets posted ? "

Everything is not posted, otherwise you'd have seen a person's personal responce to some interview, as well as some dancing .gif thing on the front page. You must understand, that things like vote decay haven't yet been implemented, so some things can "come back from the dead" (as it were) to make it to the front page. If you don't like it, leave.



--
[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
Re: Moderation work. (none / 0) (#33)
by Anonymous Hero on Thu May 04, 2000 at 06:47:40 AM EST

Actually, I think you mean leave

[ Parent ]
Re: Moderation work. (none / 0) (#48)
by CodeWright on Thu May 04, 2000 at 01:42:37 PM EST

LOL!

Sorry for the "me too, me too" post. :)



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Re: Moderation work. (none / 0) (#51)
by Anonymous Hero on Thu May 04, 2000 at 03:55:49 PM EST

No, no no. That would just be wrong. How about just leave

[disclaimer: don't click on the link in a public place.]

[ Parent ]

Re: Could your email get you committed? (4.50 / 2) (#39)
by MadDreamer on Thu May 04, 2000 at 11:49:29 AM EST

Frankly, this is insane, and it's just the type of thing I'd expect from the direction society is going. Sure, if I were to write on my door in blood, "I'm going to kill everyone in this apartment complex," THEN maybe they'd have reason to start worrying. And then if they come and TALK TO ME first about it, and I'm just sitting there on my porch swilling a beer and shining my shotgun and counting my shells... THEN I would say they had all reason they needed to worry about me.

However, this is a totally different situation. It's a sociological fact that we as humans react differently in different situations. When I'm with my friends, I kick back and make stupid jokes. With people I've known for a long time, in-jokes abound. It's the same with any peer group. I'm not going to walk up to someone I don't know and make reference to something they wouldn't understand. Just like with one of my friends I may make stupid jokes about "those darn queers." Now, someone who didn't know my own past would take that out of context and immediately assume that I was anti-homosexual and either want to yell at me or shake my hand, you never know.

From the article: As for taking action on the basis of stolen e-mail, Beckman said, ''Again, in general, it is fair to say that information that comes from intrusion into another person's privacy makes everybody uncomfortable. But it doesn't change what you learn. You can't un-know a piece of information that you see as a threat to your community.''

I don't understand how this person could possibly claim to 'know' this information in the first place. This was mad assumption based on very limited facts. You can't un-know a piece of information you didn't ever know in the first place!

And 'threat to your community'... does this chill anyone else? Are we living in a totalitarian society or what?

The point being, this was a private communication between friends. I would HATE to be judged on some of the things I have said to my friends, after the context had been stripped away.

This is complete and total Big-Brotherism. The thought police ARE out there, and you get nothing to say in your own defense until you're already strait-jacketed and locked in a padded room.

US legal system not working. (3.50 / 2) (#52)
by Inoshiro on Thu May 04, 2000 at 04:52:22 PM EST

"One of the roommates (who, out of concern for privacy, asked that his name not be used), said in a recent interview that they never figured their action would put Denning in Bellevue - but added they have no regrets."

The hypocrisy in the above sentence is almost biblical.

AFAIK in the US, opening and reading letters without consent is a federal crime. Why are these students not being procesuted under these laws? Some one should get the EFF on the case.



--
[ イノシロ ]
Re: US legal system not working. (none / 0) (#53)
by rusty on Thu May 04, 2000 at 05:12:20 PM EST

Only for postal mail. I don't think that covers email yet, and there are many situations where it's been ruled legal to read email. They'd have to go after the roommates on some other invasion of privacy charge, I think.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Re: Could your email get you committed? (5.00 / 1) (#56)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri May 05, 2000 at 11:30:38 AM EST

> NYU officials would not comment on the story, citing federal privacy laws.

How ironic.

Could your email get you committed? | 58 comments (58 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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