After a day of email correspondence with Sarah, of Roger's Blog, my editors and I have decided to remove the hotlinks to her and her husband's site. Sarah has talked to reporters about the fact that she was fired from her job for blogging, but she would prefer that no one but friends and family members read the actual blog.
Why are we deleting the links? Sarah wrote an irate email asking that we remove them. Today is their 11 month anniversary, her husband is in Iraq, and she just lost her job. She is angry with me because she believes that I am endangering her husband by telling you about their blog.
I have no desire to make this a more difficult situation for their family. Still, the solution she has suggested, and we have adopted, is clearly inadequate. Other blogs still link to Roger's Blog. And the site will not disappear. It will apparently remain at its public, open-access address. Removing the links to it does not make it disappear from the public domain. The only way to keep it private is to restrict access to it. But if disabling the hotlinkswill make Sarah feel better, we're willing to do it. I'm not sure this is an ethical decision, and I doubt this will solve anything, but given the circumstances, I feel I have no choice.
Anyone out there who is blogging intimate details of their private life should take notice of this case. If you want your information to remain private, you need to lock it up in a livejournal or on another restricted blogging platform. Otherwise, people can find it and will, and, no one needs your permission to link to your site.
Yes, we're taking down the links, but the lesson here is that ultimately, once you put something in the public domain, you are no longer the gatekeeper.