his seems to be my week to talk about privacy vs. disclosure issues. Between declaring that “social networks will be the downfall of civilization” and Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s Yahoo email showing up on Wikileaks, I have more ammo and motivation and subject matter than I’ve had to write on for quite a while. So here goes some of my thoughts on Palin and her right to privacy vs. public disclosure.

Let’s get something clear from the start: The person or group calling themselves Anonymous have committed a crime when they cracked Sarah Palin’s Yahoo account. They committed a crime that will garner them national attention and if the FBI and other law enforcement agencies aren’t already hot on their trail, you can bet they will be soon. And if the crackers aren’t at least a little bit worried about that, then these guys are just plain stupid.

Sarah Palin has a right to privacy. I don’t care that she’s campaigning hard to become the second highest politician in America and possibly the world, she has every right to expect that what goes on in her home, behind closed doors, should be her business and not ours. That includes her phone calls, her voice mail and her email. She has every expectation that the aspects of her personal life that she wants to keep private should be kept private. However, and this is a big ‘however’, the moment that she crosses the line from private citizen to public figure, most of that expectation goes out the window.

There are a number of disclosure laws affecting public officials that mandate that all email and other communication relating to their public office are the property of the government and the public. This starts with the Freedom of Information Act and works it’s way out from there. I wasn’t able to find the laws specific to Alaska, and I’d appreciate any links other people have, but I know there are a number of explicit laws at the national level supporting this. Public business has to be...

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