I've just been involved in a vigorous discussion on another forum about what expectations of privacy forum members should have. The case in question was about the administrator of a third forum who read some members' private messages and as a result of what was contained in those messages kicked some people out.
In the discussion of the case, I have argued that as the owner of this forum and the server on which it is hosted, I have the right to read anything that is stored here, which would include private messages between members.
I haven't ever done it. I don't have any intention of doing it. I don't want to do it, and I don't even know how to do it. But if it's on this server, I feel I have the right to do it.
The only circumstance under which I can imagine going to the effort involved would be a situation where one member was harassing another via private message and the recipient complained to me about it. I would feel the need to verify the contents of the message before taking any action against the sender. There might be other circumstances where I would also feel it necessary to look at private messages; I can't imagine them, so I simply say that I have the right to read anything that is on this server.
I was frankly surprised by the number of people who found this position shocking and who had an expectation of privacy when using non-encrypted Internet communications on someone else's server. They raised a good point, which was that folks should know that this is my attitude. Hence this post.
If there's anyone who can't live with this, let me know and I'll regretfully terminate your account.
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