AJEMIAN V. YAHOO!, INC. | No. SJC 11917 | Mass. SJC | February 21, 2017
The Cyberlaw Clinic filed an amicus brief on behalf of several trusts and estates law scholars and practitioners in Ajemian v. Yahoo!, Inc., Mass. Supreme Judicial Court No. SJC-11917. The brief supports the plaintiffs-appellants in the case. The Ajemian case arises out of a dispute between Yahoo and the family of John Ajemian, who died unexpectedly in 2006. After Mr. Ajemian’s death, the administrators of his estate contacted Yahoo about gaining access to his email account. Yahoo refused, claiming that the Stored Communications Act (SCA), 18 U.S.C. § 2701 et seq., prevented it from doing so. The amicus brief argues that Yahoo’s proposed interpretation of the SCA would frustrate the efficient administration of estates and prevent families from accessing troves of data with financial and sentimental value that are increasingly stored only on the servers of private companies like Yahoo. While acknowledging that the SCA protects important privacy interests, the brief suggests that the court need not read the SCA as dogmatically as Yahoo suggests, especially since the statute was written over 30 years ago and is silent on this particular issue.