An anonymous reader writes "A good friend of mine had her younger brother apparently commit suicide last week. He was a young, promising CS major who was close to being accepted into a very prestigious school. He was very into Linux as well as PHP/MySQL coding. He left absolutely nothing behind for the family as far as a death note or explanation, and there is some possibility that this was all somehow a tragic accident. The family is in a situation where proof of accidental death would change how this was viewed in terms of paying for parts of the funeral. More importantly, some members of the family are hoping to find something, anything, that might explain why this all went down. Since I'm the most computer-skilled person the family knows, they have asked me if I could help them try to find some information. My possible approaches are: his Linux laptop, his university, Gmail And Hotmail email accounts, and a second MySpace profile that apparently has been tagged as private. How ethical would it be to, say, try to crack his root password in a situation like this? I wouldn't attempt to crack a man's account for his wife because she thinks he is cheating on her, as his life is his own business. In death, would you have the same respect for a person's private thoughts? Secondly, If I contacted places like Google, MSN, the university, and MySpace, what are the odds that they would give me access to any of his accounts? I have links to obituaries and such to prove that he is indeed gone. Would it be a matter of not giving it to me (maybe only to the family), or is this something that they would not do at all? Any opinions on if I should do this and if so, how I should go about it?"
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