Said Tucker Carlson about the video store clerk who had blogged about Carlson's previous visit to the store (and called Carlson's wife "ridiculously wasped-out"). (Via Memeorandum.)
The clerk -- Charles Williamson -- had failed to observe the video store clerk - video store client privilege, and he paid the price for it. He got fired. How much sympathy should we have for Williamson? He's 28, old enough to know that if you use access to information that you get on the job in a way that hurts your employer, your employer won't like it and you can get fired. A video store client wants to feel a sense of privacy about the information that he creates by renting videos.
The linked article, in the Washington Post, doesn't take the privacy issue seriously. It's so tempting to mock Carlson and to feel for the little guy -- here's his blog -- and to think that blogs are a special enclave that should be immune from the limits imposed on the rest of the world. But let's focus on the larger issue. Do you want your video rental information disclosed?
Back when Robert Bork was nominated for a seat on the Supreme Court, a Washington newspaper published a list of the videos he had rented. The Bork list had nothing particularly interesting on it, but the disclosure of the list scared people enough that the Congress soon passed the Video Privacy Protection Act, which made anyone engaged in video sales or rental liable for the disclosure of "information which identifies a person as having requested or obtained specific video materials or services from a video tape service provider."
Well, I guess good libertarians should think this law is terrible. And good for Tucker Carlson for not invoking his legal rights -- if any -- on this one. (I don't know how "specific" the information Williamson published was.)
Think of all the fun we've missed over the years not having all this juicy information to chew over. But even if there were no law, video business owners would probably have a policy against disclosure and would fire clerks who published information about clients. Wouldn't you avoid the store where the clerks blogged about what the customers rented?
Anyone who thinks the answers depend on whether or not we hate the particular client really doesn't know how to think straight!