EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

10.30.13

Online Anonymity is Extremely Important

Posted in FUD at 6:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Pasquino

Summary: The important digital right which some refer to as online anonymity is being demonised and dismissed as Utopian

Online anonymity seems to have come under attack by sites that attribute it to “trolls” or vandals. In addition, all sorts of pro-surveillance circles would like us to think that when someone pursues online anonymity, then he or she is up to no good. The EFF has just published a good article [1] which gives examples of when online anonymity is absolutely crucial, not just desirable. Here is the list of hypothetical scenarios:

  • the people who run some of the funniest parody Twitter accounts, such as @FeministHulk (SMASH THE PATRIARCHY!) or @BPGlobalPr during the Deepwater Horizon aftermath. San Francisco would not be better off if we knew who was behind @KarltheFog, the most charming personification of a major city’s climate phenomenon.
  • the young LGBTQ youth seeking advice online about coming out to their parents.
  • the marijuana grower who needs to ask questions on an online message board about lamps and fertilizer or complying with state law, without publicly admitting to committing a federal offense.
  • the medical patient seeking advice from other patients in coping with a chronic disease, whether it’s alopecia, irritable bowel syndrome, cancer or a sexually transmitted infection.
  • the online dater, who wants to meet new people but only reveal her identities after she’s determined that potential dates are not creeps.
  • the business that wants no-pulled-punches feedback from its customers.
  • the World of Warcraft player, or any other MMOG gamer, who only wants to engage with other players in character.
  • artists. Anonymity is integral to the work of The Yes Men, Banksy and Keizer.
  • the low-income neighborhood resident who wants to comment on an article about gang violence in her community, without incurring retribution in the form of spray paint and broken windows.
  • the boyfriend who doesn’t want his girlfriend to know he’s posing questions on a forum about how to pick out a wedding ring and propose. On the other end: Anonymity is important to anyone seeking advice about divorce attorneys online.
  • the youth from an orthodox religion who secretly posts reviews on hip hop albums or R-rated movies.
  • the young, pregnant woman who is seeking out advice on reproductive health services.
  • the person seeking mental health support from an online community. There’s a reason that support groups so often end their names with “Anonymous.”
  • the job seeker, in pursuit of cover letter and resume advice in a business blogger’s comments, who doesn’t want his current employer to know he is looking for work.
  • many people’s sexual lives, whether they’re discussing online erotica or arranging kink meet-ups.
  • Political Gabfest listeners. Each week, the hosts encourage listeners to post comments. Of the 262 largely positive customer reviews on iTunes, only a handful see value in using their real names.

When people say that anonymity is not important, well… be sure to rebut. It can be just as important as anti-censorship. The New Scientist, which is usually a source of good articles, wrote about privacy online [2] and then bashed online anonymity [3]. Don’t let them promote defeatism when it comes to such causes. If we lose anonymity (if it becomes an impossibility), then forces of oppression and injustice will find it easier to advance.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Online Anonymity Is Not Only for Trolls and Political Dissidents

    During last week’s episode of Slate’s Political Gabfest, a weekly podcast I normally adore, senior editor Emily Bazelon mocked the concept of online anonymity. Our society would be better off if everyone was forced to put their name to their words, she said, generalizing that online anonymous users are poisoning civil discourse with their largely vile and defamatory comments. She deemed only one class of user legitimately deserving of anonymity: “people who directly fear violence.”

    In this view of the Internet, everyone else’s anonymity is worth sacrificing to silence the trolls.

    It’s easy to understand why some in the press have this perspective. If you work in online media, the bulk of your interactions involve news stories, which seem to draw the ugliest forms of discourse. If you’re a public figure, you’re faced with haters on Twitter who are obsessed with enumerating all the ways you suck. They’re even worse in the comments on YouTube. A website, such as Slate, certainly has the right to determine the culture of its online community, and I don’t have a position whether such sites, across the spectrum, should or should not allow anonymous comments, or even allow comments at all. I do, however, dispute this narrow vision of the Internet.

  2. Firefox plug-in reveals who is tracking your surfing
  3. Has the time come to abandon online anonymity?

    Many of these supporters are just jumping on a bandwagon, or have been misled about the nature of a purported dispute. Exactly why we are so quick to rush to judgement online, and to dehumanise the subject of our ire, is worth looking into further. But regardless of the reasons, the resulting mob greatly amplifies the effect on the target.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. The US Patent System: Where One Wastes Years in Court and Spends $8,000,000 in Lawyers' Fees Fighting a Bogus Patent

    A roundup of news about software patents in the US and what they have led to, owing in part to the USPTO's declining patent quality (leaving others to clean up its mess)



  2. The European Patent Office Still Silently Abusive, Will Pay $15,000 in Compensation to Female Worker After Belated ILO Judgment

    The International Labour Organisation (ILO) issues a judgment on a case of abuse by the EPO and notes "excessive length of the internal appeal proceedings."



  3. [ES] Alice Continúa Quebrando Patentes de Software Asi Que los Abogados de Patentes, Cabilderos de los Monopolistas, Etc. Ahora Atacan a la Corte Suprema por Hacer Esto

    los cabilderos Corpórativos y abogados de patentes están tratándo de poner a Alicia en la tumba, por su impacto en las patentes de software que es muy profundo y así hasta ahora casi indetenible



  4. [ES] ¿Cómo Salvar la Reputación de la EPO?: Crear Más Jurados de Apelaciónes en Europa y Abolir la Malgíada/Malintencionada Fantasía de la UPC

    Una crítica evaluación de lo que ocurre en la Oficina Europea de Patentes (EPO), la que rápidamente se está yendo para abajo (y degradando sobre todo) a el nivel de los sistemas Chinos, en conjuntamente con corrupción, los abusos, y la bajísima calidad de las patentes



  5. [ES] La Corte de Apelaciónes del Circuito Federal (CAFC) Acaba de Ponerse a Favor de los Trolles de Patentes

    la tristémente célebre CAFC, que manifestó las patentes de software en los EE.UU, acaba de dar un regalo a los trolles de patentes quienes típicamente usan las patentes de software para extorsión enc complicidad con los jueces del Este de Texas



  6. [ES] Análisis de los Últimos Datos de Lex Machina Acerca de la Litigación de Patentes Muestra Como está Declinándo

    el Professor Mark Lemley de Lex Machina resalta las tendencias en litigation al colectar y analizar datos relacionados con patente y concerniéntes a monopolios intelectuales en general; actualmente muestra una sequía de litigaciones (muestran que ha disminuído)



  7. [ES] India Patentes de Software

    El gigante de software que es la India continua enfrentándos ea la cruel y agresivo cabildeo de Occidente, haciéndo que este controle a la India por patentes que no deberían de existir en primer lugar



  8. [ES] Microsoft Dice que Continuará Extorsiónando a Compañías Que Distribuyan Linux, Usando Patentes de Software Usuallmente

    La guerra de Microsoft contra Linux, una guerra que es peleada usando patentes de software patents (por ganancias y/o por chantáje con arreglos empaquetados), todavía continúa a pesar de todas las tácticas de relaciónes públicas de Microsoft y sus sócios



  9. Alice Continues to Smash Software Patents So Patent Lawyers, Monopolists' Lobbyists Etc. Now Attack the Supreme Court for Doing This

    Corporate lobbyists and patent lawyers are trying to put Alice in the grave, for its impact on software patents is very profound and thus far almost unstoppable



  10. How to Salvage the EPO's Reputation: Create More Boards of Appeal in Europe and Abolish the Misguided UPC Fantasy

    A critical evaluation of what goes on at the European Patent Office (EPO), which is quickly descending down (and overall degrading) to the level of Chinese systems, along with the corruption, the abuses, and the low quality of patents



  11. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) Has Just Sided With Patent Trolls

    The notorious CAFC, which manifested software patents in the United States, has just given a gift to patent trolls that typically use software patents for extortion down in Texas



  12. Analyses of the Latest Data From Lex Machina About Patent Litigation Show Some Litigation Declines

    Professor Mark Lemley's Lex Machina highlights litigation trends by collecting and analysing data related to patents and pertaining to intellectual monopolies in general; now it shows litigation droughts



  13. India is Having Another Taste of the Dangers of Western Patents, Must Learn to Reject Software Patents in the Face of Great Pressure

    The growing software giant which is India continues to face cruel and aggressive lobbying from the West, enabling the West to control India by patents that should not exist in the first place



  14. Links 29/4/2016: GNOME 3.21.1, Fairphone

    Links for the day



  15. Microsoft Says It Will Continue to Extort Companies That Distribute Linux, Using Software Patents As Usual

    Microsoft's war on Linux, a war which is waged using software patents (for revenue and/or for coercion in bundling deals), is still going on in spite of all the PR tactics from Microsoft and its paid partners



  16. Australia Might be Next to Block Software Patents If Commission's Advice is Followed

    Australian advice against software patents, which can hopefully influence Australian politicians and put an end, once and for all, to all software patents in Australia



  17. [ES] ''Si la Forma de Pensar de la EPO fuese Seguida, Guantánamo Sería Posible en Suelo Alemán.”

    La EPO está todavía bajo fuego, pero mucho de ello pasa detrás de las cortinas y envuelve abogados y/o burócratas



  18. The European Copy-Paste Office (EPO)

    This morning's example (not the first) of how the EPO uses 'social' media



  19. Links 28/4/2016: Fedora 24, EE Goes Open Source

    Links for the day



  20. Amid Referendum “the New European Unitary Patent System is Likely to Collapse Before It Started”

    The Unitary Patent Court (UPC) vision seems like it may be just one month away from its gradual death, depending on British voices amongst other key factors



  21. USTR is Trying to Shame and Bully India Into Introducing Software Patents in India

    Lobbying body of the US (corporations-led) is trying its usual dirty tactics against India's sound policy which excludes software/algorithms from patent scope



  22. No, Visual Studio is NOT Open Source and Xamarin Openwashing is NOT News

    The latest example of Microsoft openwashing, courtesy of confidants of Microsoft and those who got bamboozled by them



  23. Latest Black Duck Puff Pieces a Good Example of Bad Journalism and How Not to Report

    Why the latest "Future of Open Source Survey" -- much like its predecessors -- isn't really a survey but just another churnalism opportunity for the Microsoft-connected Black Duck, which is a proprietary parasite inside the FOSS community



  24. If EPO “Form of Thinking Were to be Followed, Guantanamo on German Soil Would be Possible.”

    The EPO is still under fire, but a lot of it happens behind the scenes and involves lawyers and/or bureaucrats



  25. Links 28/4/2016: Tomb Raider for GNU/Linux, Proxmox VE 4.2

    Links for the day



  26. [ES] La Departura de la Readidad de la EPO Y Su Entrada en la Esféra Industrial China de Propaganda

    La deceptiva trampa del maximálism de patentes, donde se asume que artficialmente aumentando el número de patentes otorgadas traerá el resultado esperado



  27. [ES] Una Fársa de Sistema: ¿Cómo la SIPO, USPTO, y cada vez más la EPO se Convierten en Llenado de Patentes (No Se Requiere Propia Examinación)

    Una crítica al decline en la calidad de patentes en algunas de las más grandes oficinas de patentes del mundo, donde aspiración parece ser neo-liberal en el sentido económico



  28. [ES] Microsoft ‘Asalto con Todo’ Contra Android, Java, y GNU/Linux, Usando la Clásica E.E.E. Táctica de Nuevo

    Otro recordatorio de la realidad que Microsoft está muy activo en el frente E.E.E., not no sólo contra GNU/Linux pero también Android y Java



  29. [ES] Más Rumores y Llamadas Acerca de Prospectos de Microsoft Vaya a Comprar Canonical (Ubuntu con todo y Zapatos)

    Teniendo en cuenta los últimos movimientos de Canonical, algunos expertos piensan que es posible que Shuttleworth elija el dinero a Microsoft sobre principios sino también inste para que esto ocurra



  30. Links 27/4/2016: A Lot About OpenStack, Vivaldi 1.1 Released

    Links for the day


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts