Forgive and Forget: Return to Obscurity


M. Bishop, E. Butler, K. Butler, C. Gates, and S. Greenspan, “Forgive and Forget: Return to Obscurity,” Proceedings of the 2013 New Security Paradigms Workshop pp. 1–10 (Sep. 2013).



Traditionally, if someone did some act that required forgiveness, there were social norms in place for such forgiveness to happen. Over time, the act is also typically forgotten. And, should the person not be forgiven and the social pressure become too great, he had the option of moving to a new location for a fresh start. Yet with the Internet, these options are no longer available. Worse, activities which traditionally did not even require forgiveness are now impacting lives in unexpected ways, and are never forgotten. There are, however, technical approaches that could be applied to the problem, such as (1) controlling dissemination through new access control models or cryptographic approaches, (2) flooding the web with contrary information, (3) leading users to believe the information applies to someone else, (4) changing the semantics of what was written, and (5) finding a way to take advantage of the inconvenient information. In this paper we discuss the social act of forgiveness, and go into detail on the possible technical approaches to “forgetting” without deleting.

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DOI: 10.1145/2535813.2535814