DEAR ABBY: I will soon be meeting with someone who is writing a biography of his late father. I knew the man well (perhaps too well) more than 30 years ago. I was privy to certain indiscretions that I would never reveal, except that now all the principals are dead.
I don't know what my friend would want now. It may be that he would not want me to reveal what I know. Is there a statute of limitations on confidentiality? Does it end with the death of the subjects, or the death of everyone known immediately to them (i.e., living family and/or friends)? Or does confidentiality last forever?
Journalist friends tell me that in the tradition of their profession, the dead have no privacy. I'm not sure I agree with that, or whether it applies to personal confidences. Courts have ruled that public persons have less privacy than nonpublic persons. Does that apply here?
My friends are divided on this. I'm in the middle. What do you think? -- SITTING ON A SECRET
DEAR SITTING: In general, privacy rights die with the person. My legal experts tell me dead people cannot be defamed. Their good names die with them.
However, in the moral sense, if you kept your friend's secret while he was alive, you should continue to do so. Listen to your conscience and you won't go wrong.