"Ephemeral Conversation is Dying"


"Conversation used to be ephemeral...This has changed." So writes Bruce Schneier in a column about the reasons Obama should keep his BlackBerry -- but won't.

The new scrutiny goes well beyond the White House, as I pointed out in a column about local politics a couple of years ago: "The Internet takes things that used to be hidden and puts them a mouse-click away from ubiquity...Ask former Congressman Mark Foley, who may have thought instant messages disappeared into the ether before finding out the hard way they can be saved, or former Hewlett-Packard Chairman Patricia Dunn, who got busted in a corporate espionage scandal after one of her henchman left an electronic fingerprint on someone else's site. Locally, then-Judge Bill Daisy landed in hot water in 2003 when his off-color e-mails were forwarded to members of the press."

Schneier addresses the legal problems of newly-trackable private conversations, calling for a "comprehensive data privacy law, protecting our data and communications regardless of where it is stored or how it is processed. We need laws forcing companies to keep it private and delete it as soon as it is no longer needed. Laws requiring ISPs to store e-mails and other personal communications are exactly what we don't need."

Related thoughts from Schneier here.

The power of the Presidency, he says, means that the President should expect less privacy protection -- yet he still needs some.

In the end, Schneier says its a cultural issue. One day we'll all leave a digital trail, so nobody will think twice about it. We're not yet, though, and so the tech-forward Obama will take a tech step backward in his new job.


2 Comments for ""Ephemeral Conversation is Dying""

  • Caliban Avenged February 03, 2010 8:52 am

    Not at all. But we did learn how to photocopy, scan, OCR and email.

  • Ian Kemmish November 28, 2008 9:10 am

    I don't need a law, I just need a pen, paper and shredder. Or have Merkuns all forgotten how to write???

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