Monday, May 11, 2009

Privacy policy

If you and I have any online communications about content on this blog, I may quote them, including your name, unless you specify otherwise.

In contrast, I do not quote in-person communications by name, unless people specify otherwise.

That's my privacy policy.

The latter point is based on the same concerns that Ezekiel J. Emanuel expresses:

When we go out to dinner we should not have to watch what we say, whether we use the right fork, spill the olive oil on the table cloth, or make a mess around our plate.... For most of us anonymous types, we did not have to worry about this when we were younger and our habits were ingrained. But with Twitter, phone-cameras, and the rest, life is different.

It shouldn't be. The assumption should be that we will not appear in print or the blogosphere. Having dinner should not be fodder for Facebook.
He's nervous about this blog post he wrote about having dinner with Larry David. Before he published it, he showed a draft of the post to Larry David, who "happily" gave him permission. But he still has qualms about how he handled it:
After all, if he did not like the piece, he would have been in the awkward position of asking me not to post it. Maybe we need consent before going to dinner, while the date is being arranged? "This one is potentially on the record."
Isn't there a more sensible solution to this? If you want to blog about someone, ask for permission, but don't show them the post word for word -- unless, of course, they're concerned enough that they actually ask to see it before granting permission. I also point out that I could make it anonymous if they'd prefer. This seems to be a pretty effective way to avoid any major ethical dilemmas.