Michael Blowhard speculates:
Are there lessons to be drawn from the episode? It seems likely to me that kids growing up with the Web are going be wrestling with at least one stark choice: does it 1) make more sense to maintain total control over your photographs and videotapes? Or is it 2) more economical (and entertaining) to say “What the hell,” put it all out there, and enjoy whatever consequences ensue?
And why do I suspect that we’ll be seeing a lot of people opting for Choice Number Two?
Just as sensitive online communications that are currently safely encrypted may one day, after technological advances, become public, it may be that someone will eventually develop an effective Internet search engine for images (i.e., one based on something like facial recognition, rather than text as is currently the case). If that happens, a lot of the images that were put on the Internet before anybody expected them to be searchable will become searchable. Photos posted long ago, without accompanying text information, will no longer reliably remain obscure. This is as much true for photos that someone else took of you as it is for your own uploads. The implications for learning about other people in great detail are obvious, though the extent to which this will be a problem will not become clear until we get there.
Michael posits that kids growing up in the new age will face disclosure dilemmas, and they may. But I think it’s at least as likely that most people growing up now and in the foreseeable future will take the lack of privacy for granted. It’s the people now alive who grew up before the Internet who may have the hardest time, because there’s a lot of information out there about many of them that they once assumed would forever remain private.
If you don’t want an image or document to become widely known in the far future, don’t transmit it by or post it on the Internet.