AOL's accidental release of the search records, while giving an interesting peek into private livesof its users, is another proof of Norlin's" Maxim: that "The internet inexorably pulls information from the private domain into the public domain"
Inspite of Norlin's Maxim, enterprises are clearly duty bound to treat users/customer's digital footprints with same level of care as they would treat their credit card numbers. I don't think I am comfortable with AOL/Time Warner having any such data in its possession in a manner that is potentially accessible to someone/anyone. My identity and my digital footprints should be inaccessible to anyone that includes people within organizational boundaries.
Digital lifestyle does leave footprints, your entire life is being recorded. Here is interesting article that appearded on this issue: "Beyond the question of informed consent lie larger questions: Should all of this electronic flotsam and jetsam be archived in the first place? What are the consequences for us if our digital footprints survive indefinitely? Who should decide whether they do survive?