Massachusetts Court: Yahoo Can Give Dead Man’s Emails to Siblings

The ruling against Yahoo set a precedent to what happens to email after someone dies.

The top court in Massachusetts ruled against Yahoo on Monday by concluding that federal law does not bar it from providing the representatives of a deceased man’s estate access to his email account.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s decision marked a victory for two people who fought Yahoo for years after their brother’s death in 2006, seeking access to contents of his email account. A probate court still needs to decide whether Yahoo can refuse under its terms of service to provide access to the emails.

A lower-court judge had ruled that a 1986 federal law called the Stored Communications Act prohibited Yahoo from disclosing the emails to the siblings, who pursued the case in their capacity as representatives for John Ajemian’s estate.

But Justice Barbara Lenk wrote that the law, which regulated when service providers could disclose e-mails, did not prevent Yahoo from providing access to representatives of someone’s estate.

“Rather, it permits Yahoo to divulge the contents of the e-mail account where, as here, the personal representatives lawfully consent to disclosure on the decedent’s behalf,” Lenk wrote.

Related: What Happens to Cryptocurrency When You Die?

The ruling appeared to set a notable precedent governing what happens to email after someone dies. Trade groups including the Internet Association, whose members include Alphabet unit Google googl and Facebook fb , had urged the court to rule for Yahoo.

“There have been some other decisions on the periphery of the issue that are cited in the decision,” Robert Kirby, a lawyer for Ajemian’s siblings, said in an email. “But this is the first that addresses the issue squarely.”

Yahoo, now owned by Verizon Communications vz , did not respond to requests for comment.

Ajemian died at age 43 in a bicycle accident, leaving no will. He had opened the email account four years earlier.

His siblings Robert and Marianne Ajemian were named the personal representatives. They filed a complaint against Yahoo in probate court in 2009 after it declined to grant them access to the account’s contents, citing the 1986 law.

Yahoo also contented the terms of service governing the account separately allowed it to reject their request. In Monday’s ruling, the court sent the case back to the probate court for further proceedings on that question.

Chief Justice Ralph Gants partially dissented from the other five judges on that holding, saying the siblings “should not have to spend a penny more to obtain estate property in the possession of Yahoo that they need to administer the estate.”


Irish court gives $1 billion Apple data center green light

DUBLIN (Reuters) – Apple may proceed to build a 850 million euro ($ 1 billion) data center in Ireland, the High Court ruled on Thursday, bringing relief for the government after a two-year planning delay which it feared could hurt its reputation with investors.

Apple in February 2015 announced plans to build the data center in a rural location in the west of Ireland to take advantage of rich green energy sources nearby.

Planning permission was granted by the local council six months later, but a series of appeals blocked Apple from beginning work.

High Court judge Paul McDermott on Thursday dismissed two separate appeals against the planning permission, clearing the way for the project to proceed.

Ireland relies on foreign multinational companies for the creation of one in every 10 jobs across the economy and sees major investments such as data centers as a means of securing their presence in the country.

A similar Apple center announced at the same time in Denmark is due to begin operations later this year and Apple has announced it will build a second data center there.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar met Apple executives last month and said they had made clear their frustration with the planning and judicial delays and warned the process would color decisions that they might make about future investments.

The government has said it is considering amending its planning laws to include data centers as strategic infrastructure, thus allowing them to get through the planning process much more quickly.

It has said it will be one of the biggest capital investment projects in the west of Ireland, providing 300 construction jobs and 150 on-site permanent jobs.

Writing by Conor Humphries and Padraic Halpin