"Digital footprint" case studies

Thanks to the PrivacyInternational Twitterstream for their link to this informative Washington Post article about campus police officers (in itself a slightly strange concept from a UK perspective) monitoring students’ social networking pages. This quotation sums up what I think needs to be said more often about the digital footprint of web users in general, not just social networkers:

“An expedition into a thicket of blinking MySpace profiles found high school students discussing drugs, sex and fights. It was all publicly available (although in language that caused a reporter to blush).

“It’s crazy, the things they put on there,” Loudoun County Sheriff Stephen O. Simpson said. “They seem to think they’re invisible.””

As long as users (and citizens, for that matter) continue to believe that they are not leaving any traces when in fact they are, their risk assessments relating to online (and indeed public) behaviour will continue to be fundamentally flawed.

I wonder if that view is shared by the (masked) riot police officer now at the centre of allegations of assault, based on video footage from the G20 Summit protests.