Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Hillary Clinton loves Snapchat's self-destroying messages, and probably wants the right for some things to be forgotten, everywhere


Hillary Clinton was videotaped as saying, “Snapchat?  I love it. Those messages disappear all by themselves.
    
In fact, my own temperament is to want to have a record of what I said (sounds like Nixon and his Watergate tapes).  But think of Snapchat as like an unrecorded phone conversation. The only recollection is memory.  Or, the fact that for many years, it normally was not possible or practical to access voice mail messages you had left on other people’s answering machines (so 80s!), either at home or work.  In the workplace, “SYSMCICS” was how you saved things.

There’s another context for Hillary’s remark, in fact, a couple more. One, of course, is the use of one’s own personal equipment for workplace use, when consumer (or otherwise sensitive or even classified data could be transmitted) – this used to be a lot more acceptable, as people did production support or customer service calls at home on their own computers, before consumer privacy became so vulnerable.
  
Another is that the paradigm for Snapchat has its opposite:  the ability to post things (without gatekeeper) that will get search-engine-indexed, stay public, and always be easily accessed, often for free – my paradigm.  Although the legal consequences of defamation, for example, could be the same on Snapchat (if backed up by testimony) as on a public website or book, the practical risk is much less for content that is “whitelisted” and clearly aimed to be seen by a relatively restricted audience (whether or not immediately shredded). 


This leads me back to “the right to be forgotten”, and a posting on Harvard cyberlaw, by Annie Pruitt, “When forgetting isn’t best”.  She summarizes the ideas of Jonathan Zittrain, who suggests that “delete” requests be heard by a public system (the courts), and not just by private companies, who have an inherent conflict of interesting processing the requests. 

By the way, the New York Times had reported  (Mark Scott) June 12 that France has actually threatened to fine Google if it doesn’t honor French requests an all its domains, not just “.fr” (since “.com” is so easily accessible).  This would seem to have potential impact on the way Google has handled Blogger statements of “privacy policies” (at least when carrying ads), which so far it has handled by TLD (see Aug. 13 posting). 

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