Independent Thinking Blog

Privacy, Identity, and Digital Fingerprints

Jeffrey Rosen has a terrific, thought-provoking article in last week’s New York Times Magazine about the end of privacy in our new digital era. In it, he writes:

We are only beginning to understand the costs of an age in which so much of what we say, and of what others say about us, goes into our permanent—and public—digital files. The fact that the Internet never seems to forget is threatening, at an almost existential level, our ability to control our identities; to preserve the option of reinventing ourselves and starting anew; to overcome our checkered pasts..


The truth is that, for a great many people, the permanent memory bank of the Web increasingly means there are no second chances—no opportunities to escape a scarlet letter in your digital past. Now the worst thing you’ve done is often the first thing everyone knows about you.


Rosen looks at the implications of this digital identify and explores potential legal and technological solutions to help us manage and protect our reputations. The article is long–but it is well worth taking the time to read.

Hat tip to Tim Taylor for alerting me to this one.

Photo by graphia (Flickr).

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