Scott Rosenberg points out a meaty, well-reasoned article by James Grimmelmann on the implications of the Laurie Garrett controversy.
One of the comments on Grimmelmann's article made the point that the removal of the expectation of privacy is old news for one of the more venerable corners of the internet:
An similar previous transition; Intentional migration of form (Score: 0)
by Anonymous (Name Withheld on Advice of Counsel) on Friday, February 28 @ 17:41:51 EST
Two thoughts I did not see in my brief scan of this page:
(1) Usenet news and mailinglists went through a privacy transition much like the one being discussed for email. The transition is now quite mature, and thus might be a source of insight. I'll leave that for others. For those unfamiliar with it – usenet news groups and mailinglists were largely an ephemeral media only a decade or so ago. Some lists had archives, but one generally was aware of this when composing notes. Most groups and lists did not. Then along came the web, and 15-year-old late-night notes to a small "private" (as in, known familiar membership) communities… were now turning up on google searches for one's name. There was a bit of short term "taken a back"ness and consternation, but archiving is now pervasive, and it's not clear the style of participation has changed a great deal.
(2) The described disappearance of last name and email header may have been intentional, principled, and an example of how all this issue can be dealt with. I will sometimes forward a mailinglist email after stripping list and/or author identifying information, because while the email's content seems appropriate to forward further, the existence of the list, or the author's association with the content, seems inappropriate for a larger audience not part of the lists's community. In the case discussed, perhaps the error lay in insufficient stripping of information? Imagine a continuum from full email forwarding, to forwarding without identifiers, through increasingly intense rewriting or paraphrasing, to expression of the ideas largely divorced from their original form. Various documents will tend to have a transition at different points in the spectrum, a transition from the author "objecting greatly" to propagation, to "objecting", to "feeling it's not a big deal". Some will mind even the ideas themselves becoming available (eg, confidential information). But mostly, at some point the problem goes away. As an aside, the copyright "elephant" only extends part way across the continuum, and thus can only be part of such a solution.
Bottom line, changes in privacy expectation may be more significant than changes in authorial practice, and more nuanced sharing/propagation of information seems likely to be part of how these issues are addressed.
Note that spoken conversation and visible day-to-day behavior will go through similar transitions as wearable computing makes individual audio and video capture more prevalent.
[Quoted in full because there's no obvious way to link to a specific comment at LawMeme.]
I don't know that the trauma inflicted upon Usenet's denizens by the creation of DejaNews was quite at the same level, since anyone posting to Usenet or a mailing list knows that at any given moment there are probably ten lurkers reading the group for every one posting who you think you know and to whom you tailor your comments. Still, it's nice to see someone providing a little perspective.
My hope is that the Usenet solution – a greater awareness of the implications of expressing yourself freely, complemented by a fair amount of attention being paid to the enforcement of group norms – will win out in the long run. It's far from perfect, but (like democracy) it's better than all the other solutions out there.