Jef­frey Rosen, law pro­fes­sor at George Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­sity (GWU), has called the cur­rent incar­na­tion of the Inter­net “a dig­i­tal world that never for­gets” in a recent piece on pri­vacy for the The New York Times.

It’s an astute arti­cle look­ing at the idea of seg­mented iden­ti­ties, the search for a way to safely con­trol our online iden­ti­ties, and some inter­est­ing spec­u­la­tion on dig­i­tal rep­u­ta­tions and their pos­si­ble impor­tance in the future.

Of par­tic­u­lar inter­est to me are two stud­ies Rosen weaves into his story on how pri­vacy on the Inter­net influ­ences our lives and how we can be nudged to become more pri­vacy aware:

Accord­ing to a recent sur­vey by Microsoft, 75 per­cent of U.S. recruiters and human-resource pro­fes­sion­als report that their com­pa­nies require them to do online research about can­di­dates, and many use a range of sites when scru­ti­niz­ing appli­cants — includ­ing search engines, social-networking sites, photo– and video-sharing sites, per­sonal Web sites and blogs, Twit­ter and online-gaming sites. Sev­enty per­cent of U.S. recruiters report that they have rejected can­di­dates because of infor­ma­tion found online, like pho­tos and discussion-board con­ver­sa­tions and mem­ber­ship in con­tro­ver­sial groups.


Accord­ing to M. Ryan Calo, who runs the consumer-privacy project at Stan­ford Law School, exper­i­menters study­ing strate­gies of “vis­ceral notice” have found that when peo­ple nav­i­gate a Web site in the pres­ence of a human-looking online char­ac­ter who seems to be actively fol­low­ing the cur­sor, they dis­close less per­sonal infor­ma­tion than peo­ple who browse with no char­ac­ter or one who appears not to be pay­ing attention.

via @finiteattention