Dave Hamel wrote a pretty thoughtful reply, entitled, aptly:

The ship has already sunk, learn to swim

“While the BI/WA barrier may be getting thinner I think it comes down to due diligence and an expectation of privacy. You may think “I only posted it on my Facebook”. Ya okay, but your friend liked that photo of you passed out with marker on your face so much they re-posted it. Now it is in the open.

If you post things on the internet, you have no expectation of privacy.

Chris is talking more about personal data collected by WA’s and used by Business Intelligence. But I think this falls into the same category. If you don’t want Amazon to know you read “Horny House Wives” magazine, then don’t login and surf to it. With a little care and forethought you can protect yourself without the need for legislation. Of course this is Canada, and heaven knows how much we like to make laws.”

He had a good talk about it, and I raised the point of ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’.

In Canada, if you’re filmed while out on the street, and it’s film for the purpose of commercial exploitation, then the producer doesn’t have the right to film you and exhibit it without your expressed consent. Even though you’re on the street, in a public space, you still have the reasonable expectation to privacy with respect to your identity.

If you’re posting material into the public domain – say, a publicly available website or blog – and you state your identity, I think that’s pretty much out there in the public domain.

There’s an important, notable exception, however. CIRA, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, had to bend to inquiries by the privacy commissioner with respect to the domain lookup protocols. Before, if you registered a website, anybody could look up a domain and get your identity. So – there’s some indication here and there that a reasonable expectation of privacy extends to the Internet, just as it extends to going out in public. Canadian ISP’s use a similar principle – the reasonable expectation of privacy – in part (I think) to keep your personal identify seperate from your IP address. (It’s a provision I happen to agree with! Again, as a web analyst, I don’t need to know that Mary Anderson of 3245 North Avenue searched “I Can Has Cheezburger” and bounced right off the ICHC site immediately, I would, however, like to know the overall bounce rate of the home page to improve Mary’s next visit. I don’t need Mary’s personal identity to do that.)

The key, I think, is that I’m willing to accept high level, anonymous surveillance if it actually results in some enhancement of my experience on the short or medium term. I’m not in favor of wanton, unethical, and/or personally identified, widely distributed surveillance, especially if it could be looked up by just anybody.

That said, Hamel’s main point – ‘learn to swim’, is totally valid.

As a generation of Y’ers has learned, don’t post anything to facebook that you wouldn’t want your parents to see. Maybe it’s not such a good idea to be posting so many pictures of yourself strung out on there? That said, Facebook and Myspace, I felt, violated one of the biggest principles of the Youth OGO movement – protection of the personal identity through the use of handles. Most of us who went out onto mIRC in the late nineties didn’t use our full, original names. We were so much more cognizant then. (LOL, what happened?)

If you’re out there with your personal identity – I’d agree with Hamel – learn to swim.