[AktiviX-discuss] who owns addresses?

mark mark at aktivix.org
Thu Nov 7 18:01:00 UTC 2019

That's an interesting question.

I think there may be two different issues here:

[1] If a person uses an email address in the name of a group, do other
members of that group have a moral or legal right to access the account?

[2] If a service provider provides an email account, is the provider
legally or morally responsible for the way in which it's used?

My personal takes (AINAL) are these:

[1] It depends on the way power and trust operate within that group. If
a group has a commitment to non-heirarchical practice, the individual
who operates the account should be fully accountable to anyone in the
group in who's name they act. But group composition and structure
changes over time, so unless you want to immerse yourself in an
investigation of how a group works, and are comfortable putting yourself
in a quasijuridical role, it's probably better to have a paragraph in
the terms of service saying it's the group's responsibility to make sure
that all the people who need access to an account have the necessary
details to use it, and that as a provider one should value the
preservation of privacy above other considerations.

[2] I think this is why it's a great idea to build systems that don't
give the service provider any access to the content of mailboxes, or
other supposedly private material.

Other opinions may be more helpful than mine...


> Hi
> This may be a philosophical discussion.
> When a group asks for group email addresses and a person ends up
> being the only one checking it to the point most people expect that one
> person to answer, does that account belong to the group, or to the person?
> Ecosia gave me some pages related to domains and corporate email
> systems, that, in summary, I understood, some (US only?) court judgments
> have
> sentenced that all emails with addresses @any_given_domain belong to
> the person or company who owns that domain.
> This seems to rest on the idea that
> if your employer provides you with an email address, it is in the
> understanding that even after you leave, they have access to records
> related to the business activity. Expanding from this, judgments have
> also established that an employee has or should have no expectations of
> privacy when using a work address.
> But then it expands to emails at gmail.com, All emails you send and receive
> using a gmail address can then have no expectations of privacy.
> How do we want this to affect us when email
> addresses are created for groups?
> bou

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