Confidentiality, by Daniel J. Solove

Confidentiality, by Daniel J. Solove

Postby admin » Fri Oct 11, 2013 3:25 am

Excerpt from THE FUTURE OF REPUTATION: GOSSIP, RUMOR, AND PRIVACY ON THE INTERNET
by Daniel J. Solove


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CONFIDENTIALITY

Aleksey was an ambitious twenty-three-year-old student at Yale University. Desiring to be an investment banker, he applied to UBS, a global financial company. His application, however, was rather unusual. First of all, his resume was rather long -- eleven pages in all. Even more peculiarly, he sent along a seven-minute video of himself entitled "Impossible Is Nothing."

The video begins with Aleksey being interviewed as if he were a famous individual. The interviewer calls Aleksey a "model of personal development and inspiration to many around you," then asks, "How do some people like yourself become very proficient in their fields faster than most?" "Well, thank you," Aleksey replies. "I guess the first thing people need to understand is that success is a mental transformation; it is not an external event."

Throughout the video, with an aloof and serious tone, Aleksey pontificates about his philosophy of success. "Ignore the losers," Aleksey says, "bring your A-game, your determination and your drive to the field, and success will follow you." In other pearls of advice, Aleksey declares that "failure cannot be considered an option," and that "luck doesn't jump into anyone's lap."

The video frequently cuts to scenes demonstrating Aleksey's athletic prowess. He performs a series of rather unusual skills for an investment banker position. Aleksey lifts massive dumbbells, bench presses 495 pounds, serves a 140-mph tennis ball, does an acrobatic ski jump, and concludes by breaking a stack of bricks with a karate chop.

"If you're going to work, work," Aleksey declares. "If you're going to train, train. If you're going to dance, then dance, but do it with passion." The video then cuts to Aleksey dancing with a scantily clad woman to Chayanne's "Solamente Tu Amor." The video concludes with Hans Zimmer's "The Way of the Sword" playing over end credits.

Needless to say, Aleksey wasn't hired by UBS. But his video was forwarded around Wall Street, and it soon wound up on YouTube. In a short time, hundreds of thousands of people had downloaded it. Aleksey sent requests to websites to take the video down, but in vain. [30] Aleksey had become an Internet sensation. One media website in the United Kingdom declared Aleksey's video the "greatest CV ever filmed." [31] The mainstream media pounced on the story. The New York Post called his video a "six-minute ego-mercial." [32] An article in the New York Times declared that Aleksey "may be the most famous investment-banking job applicant in recent memory." [33] Throughout the blogosphere, people accused Aleksey of being a pathological liar, of faking the feats in the video, and of plagiarizing in a book he had self-published. At DealBook, a blog sponsored by the New York Times, [34] commentators to a post by journalist Andrew Sorkin declared:

That kid should be snipped of his degree. It seems reasonably clear that he has lived a life of lies.

Another victim of a self-absorbed, dishonest and Idol-worshipping American culture.

What an insufferable, self-absorbed, arrogant and self-aggrandizing jerk. In other words, a perfect fit for Wall Street.


Aleksey appeared on television media shows to respond to his worldwide mockery. On MSNBC, Aleksey stated in an interview that he was shocked to see his video and resume spread across the Internet. His resume contained his phone number and email address, and he was receiving harassing cell phone calls and thousands of nasty emails. [35] At Harvard students threw an Aleksey theme party, with people dressing up in karate uniforms and dancing attire. [36] The blog Gawker anointed Aleksey with the tide of "pioneer Douchebag." [37] In an interview on ABC's 20/20, Aleksey stated that he thought he had no chance now for a career on Wall Street. "So far," he said, "it's been like going through hell." [38]

Did Aleksey get what he deserved? Perhaps such a pompous person should be put in his place. But at what cost? On Sorkin's DealBook post, other commentators questioned whether it was appropriate for Aleksey's resume and video to be leaked on the Internet:

I am deeply disturbed [that] a resume sent in confidence to a highly respected firm had been made public and that confidence [was] broken. Should we all worry about where [our resumes] end up once sent to the firm of our choice?

Although the kid is obviously a ridiculous egomaniac and not a particularly good liar, the real guilty party here is UBS.

This fellow is being subjected (in Clarence Thomas' immortal words) to a "hightech lynching." Whether or not he embellished or misrepresented anything in his job app or his resume or anything else in his life, it's beyond the pale to have the entire snarky Internet ... pile on him in public.


In all fairness to UBS, the precise story of how the video and resume got leaked is unclear. UBS issued a statement about the matter: "As a firm, UBS obviously respects the privacy of applicants' correspondence and does not circulate job applications and resumes to the public. To the extent that any policy was breached, it will be dealt with appropriately." [39]

Assuming Aleksey's application was leaked by somebody at UBS, is the application really private? One could argue that Aleksey's application was no longer private after he sent it to UBS. However, there is a significant difference between a few employees at UBS having a chuckle over Aleksey's application and the entire world making Aleksey the butt of their jokes. Although the video wasn't completely secret since Aleksey exposed it to some people at UBS, the general public wasn't Aleksey's intended audience. Should the law respect Aleksey's desire to expose his personal information selectively? Or since he revealed his information to others, can he continue to claim that it is private?
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