Yahoo’s Ring of Gyges

It was reported that Yahoo scanned email accounts for a string of unknown characters, as ordered by U.S. intelligence. Yahoo did not deny this report but commented that it is a “law abiding company, and complies with the laws of the United States.” However this is not the only instance that Yahoo has given up its user’s account information to the government. In 2015 the Government directed Yahoo to give email access to the FBI and is still being questioned about a breach in 2014 that compromised accounts.

This can be seen as a modern day case of the Ring of Gyges. This story is about a man named Gyges who finds a magic ring that makes him invisible. Because of this, he can get away with anything he wants to, so he kills the king and marries the queen. It illustrates Glaucon’s belief that justice is an agreement between the best and the worst. The best being getting away with doing harm, and the worst being not getting retribution when harmed. In today’s society, the ring of Gyges can be seen as power or authority.

I believe that search engine companies, such as Yahoo and Google have far too much power over our personal information and have their own “ring of Gyges.” Because the internet has grown so quickly there are not many rules and regulations on how our data should be dealt with. Your email is part of this data and can hold sensitive information. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution prevents unlawful search and seizure, which your email should be part of. Very few things are sent in the mail these days so I believe your email should be regarded as an extension of your physical mailbox. The fact that Yahoo did a scan on millions of accounts at the request of the law clearly demonstrates their possession of the ring of Gyges. Where is the respect for not only people’s personal privacy, but also their property? The same goes for giving email access to the FBI in 2015. Because the internet is so unregulated, companies think they can get aways with looking at your emails or giving access to your accounts but that is no ok. They are over stepping their bounds because they cannot get caught, or at the very least, nothing can be done to stop them. Our emails and accounts need to be treated in the same manner our physical personal property is treated in and we all need to agree that the actions Yahoo has taken are impermissible.

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