Per the NYT of June 3, 2016: ““If a hacker can easily find 30 or 40 percent of people’s names from delisted articles, what is the point?”” Assuming that the personal identifying data were indeed discovered through hacking, whatever this word means in this case, and not merely using data compiled under different countries’ domains (e.g., the U.K. and the U.S.), the reasoning is suspect: Why have stop signs, if drivers will run them; why outlaw murder, if some will, etc.
The problem extends beyond the breached right to privacy and the persistence and spread of digital footprints – this is about asymmetry of information. Some manage to live rather private lives notwithstanding their influence on public policy; some manage to lead lives way too public for their respective contributions; some want to be famous / infamous. Most just want to climb out of the trough of insecurity, and using the media, especially the powerful mainstream sort, is necessary to gain exposure. Those without the pre-existing robust network of influential connections need not concern themselves about gaining such public exposure. However, someone that seeks to move from rags to riches (starting without money and getting some means taking it from others) needs to be out there; to be seen and heard, and I suppose to be forever remembered due to hackers, apparently.
(N.B. The coincidence of short attention spans with long-lived digital preservation is startling!)
This is also a matter of justice and proportionality. Have you ever heard a convicted individual speak at a sentencing hearing? Whatever the crime, it was a statistical aberration; that is, the individual’s bad acts were so few and his/her not so bad acts way more in frequency (even Enron had an abundance of legitimate transactions; even John Gotti allegedly distributed free fireworks to his neighbors on July 4th). Some may conclude that anonymity is the best pathway – perhaps – to avoid being tagged with one act.
All of which reminds me of a less than desirable alternative: Having participated in court authorized wiretaps on prior occasions, I found the lame attempts to use coded language to conceal the most unlawful of activities amateurish and pathetic.
What if it at some not too distant point in time (now?!), no one cares about the lack of privacy? Cf. caged animals in zoos….