The too personal computer

May 09, 1999

This is an excerpt of a Boston Globe editorial published Thursday.

E-MAIL can be a seductive and evil genie. Summoned to serve man, it can incriminate him, or her, as the temptation to tell all -- or at least the juicy parts -- overwhelms caution at the keyboard.

The genie tripped up Bill Gates, who saw a series of blunt exchanges between his executives become what the government called "the smoking gun" in its antitrust case against Microsoft.

The genie trapped chatty presidential paramour Monica Lewinsky, whose e-mail and that of confidante Linda Tripp and others was confiscated by independent counsel Kenneth Starr and read all over the country.

Despite being told that such mail is about as private as a postcard, that the boss could be monitoring it and that gossipy messages frequently go astray -- we cannot resist firing off a hot one.

So utter embarrassment joins repetitive stress injury in the "downside" file of this indispensable innovation.

Pub Date: 5/09/99

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