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. Links 25/1/2015: Android Wear 5.0, Tizen in Bangladesh

    Links for the day



  2. IRC Proceedings: January 11th, 2015 – January 24th, 2015

    Many IRC logs



  3. Links 24/1/2015: Zenwalk Linux Reviewed, Netrunner 14.1 Released

    Links for the day



  4. The Latest 'Microsoft is Open Source' Propaganda a Parade of Lies

    Microsoft myth makers continue their assault on what is objectively true and try to tell the public that Microsoft is a friend of "Open Source"



  5. Apple -- Like Microsoft -- Not Interested in the Security of Its Operating Systems

    Apple neglected to patch known security flaws in Mac OS X for no less than three months and only did something about that vector of intrusion when the public found out about it



  6. As Battistelli Breaks the Rules and Topić Silences Staff, New European Parliament Petition for Tackling the EPO's Abuses is Needed

    The neglected (by EPO) Article 4a of the European Patent Convention (EPC) and the European Parliament petition/complaint against the EPO's crooked management



  7. Links 23/1/2015: Red Hat on IBM Power, Meizu Leaks With Ubuntu

    Links for the day



  8. Links 23/1/2015: Plasma 5.2, Manjaro 0.9-pre1

    Links for the day



  9. Microsoft is Dying Due to Free Software, Tries to Infect GNU/Linux With .NET and to Infect Moodle in Schools With Microsoft Office and OOXML Lock-in

    'Free' drugs (a proprietary software analogy) the new strategy of Microsoft in its latest battle against Free software, especially in schools where choice is a rarity (if not an impossibility), with the premeditated intention of forming dependency/addiction among young people



  10. Microsoft Symptoms of a Dying Company: More Boosters Depart, Back Doors Revealed, Microsoft's Outlook Cracked

    Bad news for Microsoft shortly before the marketing extravaganza served to cover much of it up



  11. The Collapse of European Patent Office Management Culminates With Resignations

    No blood is spilled, but even the management of the EPO is falling apart as the Director of Internal Communication is said to have just resigned



  12. New LCA Talk: Open Invention Network's Deb Nicholson on Software Patents and Patent Trolls

    Deb Nicholson's LCA talk is now publicly accessible



  13. Links 22/1/2015: GNU/Linux Sysadmin Opportunities, TraceFS Introduced

    Links for the day



  14. Links 21/1/2015: Andrew Tridgell, Torvalds Being Baited

    Links for the day



  15. Vesna Stilin Renews Her Fight for Justice in Željko Topić Case (EPO VP)

    Željko Topić's abuses continue to cloud the legitimacy of the European Patent Office, in which he is a Vice-President



  16. Failure of the EPO Can Derail the Trojan Horse of Software Patents and Patent Trolls

    Dazzled by his endless pursuit of infinite money and power, Battistelli pushes for expansion of patent scope (geographically too), but he won't have it without a challenge



  17. Links 20/1/2015: Linux 3.19 RC5, 30 Years of FSF

    Links for the day



  18. Translations of Member of the European Parliament Complaining About European Patent Office (EPO)

    French, German, Dutch, and English translations of the article from Dennis De Jong



  19. Microsoft, the Back Doors Company, is Gradually Dying and Trying to Embrace the Competition

    The world is leaving Microsoft's common carrier (Windows) behind, so Microsoft, which is shrinking, tries to conquer Free software and GNU/Linux



  20. Battistelli's Latest Propaganda War Tries to Convince EPO Staff That Željko Topić's Many Criminal Charges Don't Exist

    Battistelli's right-hand man, Željko Topić, is now facing real danger of prosecution and possibly arrest in his home country, so Battistelli rushes to defend this thug's reputation



  21. Links 18/1/2015: Sailfish OS RoadMap, ownCloud Turns 5

    Links for the day



  22. Strategy of Litigation With Patents Has Collapsed Since SCOTUS Ruling in Alice v. CLS Bank

    The latest figures from Lex Machina show a massive decrease (-18%) in patent litigation last month; lawyers look for ways to spin the data in their favour



  23. Patent Lawyers Can't Help Rewriting Alice v. CLS Bank History

    The league of patent lawyers -- people who profit at the expense of software producers -- keeps brainwashing the public about the patentability of software (both the rationale and the potential)



  24. Myths and Hype About Patents

    Distortion of history and fabricated reports about patents in the corporate media leave many people confused and ultimately unable to make rational judgment



  25. Large Corporations, Including Microsoft Allies, Call for Abolition of Software Patents

    The calls for ending all patents on software are getting louder and patents as a whole are de-emphasised as a business strategy



  26. Links 17/1/2015: Lennart Poettering in Headlines, Mageia 5 Beta 2

    Links for the day



  27. Links 16/1/2015: Chapeau 21, Tails 1.2.3

    Links for the day



  28. Links 15/1/2015: KDE Releases, Ubuntu Phone Delays

    Links for the day



  29. Links 15/1/2015: KDE Plasma 5.2 Beta, Elive 2.5.2 Beta

    Links for the day



  30. Google Has Eliminated Microsoft's Dominance in Operating Systems, Microsoft Resorts to Propaganda, Child Exploitation, and EEE

    As Linux becomes the dominant kernel at Windows' expense Microsoft pulls old tricks including media manipulation, AstroTurfing, co-opting schools (making Windows obligatory for future generations), and EEE (embrace, extend, and extinguish)


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