Friday, September 15, 2006

A Lesson In Caution

We read:

"At first glance, the posting looked like any number of Internet classified ads explicitly seeking sex. But instead of the 27-year-old woman with long brown hair advertised in the posting, a Seattle-area graphic designer, collected the replies and posted them online - with photos, names and contact information.

Details here

Some argue that what he did is protected as free speech and it may be. More to the point, there is a well-established legal principle that mail is the property of the person to whom it is sent. So was he entitled to do what he did? Perhaps not. I think he was guilty of the Common Law offence of deception.

But what if he had really been a woman? Perhaps a feminist who was willing to "go underground" -- as Gloria Steinem did? I doubt that he/she would have committed an offence then.

So we all now have another lesson to learn, I think: Assume that EVERYTHING you write in mail could end up being read by the whole wide world. It is a sad day when we can no longer trust private communications to remain private but I don't suppose we ever could.

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