Online Anonymity Must Be Stopped?

from the let's-try-this-again dept

If you thought by now the idea of online anonymity was settled, you'd be wrong. In an addition to a post on Copyfight, Donna Wentworth points to an article in the UK with someone from an IT security company claiming that "The ability to remain anonymous while surfing the web is dangerous." Of course, some might claim that the reverse is true as well. As with anything, there are tradeoffs, and freaking out about a system like Freenet (which is what the quote referred to) is completely missing the point. The worries are that such systems will be used by terrorists -- but then ignores the idea that in taking away anonymity it opens up the very real possibility that the lack of privacy will be abused, allowing the government to take away free speech from those they disagree with. Besides, as we were just pointing out, just because you're anonymous online doesn't mean you can't be caught. There are enough tools out there to make people anonymous online that if they want to do so, they can. Making one particular system out to be "dangerous" does nothing to stop that.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  •  
    identicon
    dorpus, Aug 8th, 2005 @ 12:46pm

    Bad Apples

    What if sickos abuse the anonymity to prey on people? One guy got turned on by images of strangulation videos on the internet, so he targeted suicidal teenagers on pro-suicide web sites, lured them into the woods, did it for real, and bragged about it.

    http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20050809-00000101-yom-soci

     

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      identicon
      Anon, Aug 8th, 2005 @ 2:49pm

      Re: Bad Apples

      And you think because he did this because he was anonymous online? Nah, you're probably right. Without anonymity on the Internet, he'd be a fine up-standing citizen who would never hurt a fly.

      By the way, watching strangulation videos online doesn't require anonymity. Hell, he could have went to Blockbuster and rented horror movies.

      "The sickos" is always the arguement against anonymity. The idea of anonymity is that your point of view is disagreed with, just like democracy minded individuals in China are put in prison... I suppose the Chinese call them sickos too.

      BTW, I just posted anonymously (except to the site owner)! Better get the thought police after me!

       

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        identicon
        dorpus, Aug 8th, 2005 @ 3:57pm

        Re: Bad Apples

        Ok, so what if this guy was really good at hiding his identity, and kept choking kids and openly bragging about it on the net? This guy killed 3 kids before getting caught. If it is your cousin, sister, or daughter, will you still feel that the "privacy rights" argument holds?



         

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          identicon
          whatever, Aug 8th, 2005 @ 4:18pm

          Re: Bad Apples

          OH NOS!!!! WE MUST PROTECT THE CHILDREN!!!11!!
          Gimme a break man. That's the weakest, most lame line ever, and people like you just keep on using it despite how stupid it makes you look.
          You wanna protect the children? Get the chemical industry to stop polluting their bodies with toxic chemicals. You want to protect the children, dissolve the catholic church. You want to protect the children, go lobby for funding to public schools.
          All this what-if bullshit is stupid when there are REAL problems that can be fixed right here, right now. But it's not about that, is it, dorpus? It's about negativity, and you wanting the entire world to be as dark, closed and authoritarian as your heart is.
          Well guess what. The rest of us want a transparent society where we can share any and all information regardless of who we are and what we're saying, without having to worry about persecution from governments led by negative people like you.
          And no weak arguments about protecting children is going to change that.

           

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            identicon
            dorpus, Aug 8th, 2005 @ 5:39pm

            Re: Bad Apples

            Plenty of parents already lobby all the other issues you describe. The dead kids are very real. Do we want more anonymous psychopaths boasting about their deeds online?

             

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              identicon
              jeremiah, Aug 8th, 2005 @ 7:23pm

              Re: Bad Apples

              dorpus speaketh: "This guy killed 3 kids before getting caught."

              That's right, dorkus: THE GUY killed the kids - the Internet did not kill the kids.

              His usage of the internet did not kill the kids.

              His "anonymity" (whatever the hell *that* means anymore) did not kill the kids.

              You're akin to people who blame "guns" for homicides, conveniently forgetting it's a human being that pulls the trigger.

              And historically speaking, humankind's worst atrocities have been committed without the use of the Internet.

              Now kindly STFU.

               

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              •  
                identicon
                Pete Austin, Aug 9th, 2005 @ 2:48am

                Re: Bad Apples

                That Dopeus link in Googlish
                =================
                a) Man visits disgusting Websites
                b) Man kills kids
                Agreed, this does not show that "a" caused "b". Without more evidence, it's even possible that a smaller proportion of the people who visit these revolting Websites commit murder than those in the population of a whole, making them A Good Thing. We just don't know.
                =================
                I have a theory that dopeus is compiling a book of ludicrous trolling and the responses elicited. For similar humour, see Giblet's comments on Fafblog
                =================
                Finally, nobody who posts using a pseudonym is entitled to criticise Web anonymity with a straight face.
                =================

                 

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                  identicon
                  dorpus, Aug 9th, 2005 @ 6:54am

                  Re: Bad Apples

                  You left out a crucial step:

                  Man USES INTERNET to meet suicidal teens.

                  Without the internet, how would he have met 3 suicidal teens in a row?

                   

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                  •  
                    identicon
                    malhombre, Aug 9th, 2005 @ 7:26am

                    Re: Bad Apples

                    Well, dorkpuss, if we distill the process down to the nuts and bolts, he did it by communicating with them.
                    Once you strip away all the technology (cell phones, IM, chat, yada, yada) it all comes down to predatory behavior using basic human communication methods (written language).
                    Hell, what if he found an address and sent a letter? Grounds for abolishing the USPO no doubt.
                    Save the children-abolish anonymity. But isn't the CHILDS anonymity a GOOD thing?
                    I must agree with the above: STFU, seriously.

                     

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                      identicon
                      dorpus, Aug 9th, 2005 @ 7:32am

                      Re: Bad Apples

                      The USPO is regulated. We do not allow people to send porno magazines or pro-suicide literature in the mail to children. We have interstate highways, but we do not allow people to drive as they please, running over whoever they don't like. We don't allow telemarketers to call people at 3AM. We don't allow construction companies to build flimsy buildings that might spontaneously collapse and kill lots of people.

                      Talking about all-or-nothing abolishment is immature. Responsible societies regulate their activities.





                       

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                        identicon
                        malhombre, Aug 9th, 2005 @ 7:47am

                        Re: Bad Apples

                        We ALREADY don't allow predatory activity directed towards children. We ALREADY have so many laws on the books, in fact, that we are approaching a paradigm shift towards total government management of every aspect of our lives. We are losing our freedoms not at an alarming rate, but at a critical rate: I suspect we may have passed the point of no return for "altering or abolishing" as set down in the founding documents.
                        Every inch you give, a mile is taken. Do you really trust politicians and government employed legal entities to manage every aspect of your life? Fifty years ago, this would have sounded like alarmism or conspiracy theory. Have you read the Patriot Act? Are you familiar with seizure of property without due cause? Have we gone from the independent, rebellious genius of our founding fathers to the welcoming of Big Brother in the name of "safety"?
                        If so, we deserve what we will most surely get...

                         

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                        •  
                          identicon
                          malhombre, Aug 9th, 2005 @ 8:23am

                          Re: Bad Apples

                          I ain't done ranting yet:
                          Here's a few primers on the abuse of power that runs rampant in the name of our personal safety. How does this connect to the current discussion? Giving up your online anonymity is just one more step down the trail towards complete erosion of personal rights. Baby steps to hell.

                          http://techdirt.com/articles/20050808/1016206_F.shtml
                          http://www.aclu.org/freedomwire/fws_kate.h tm
                          http://www.aclu.org/freedomwire/fws_farrar.html
                          http://www.lp.org/article_171.shtml
                          http://strayligh t.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/04-108.ZS.html

                          IMHO more people have suffered horrible fates in the name of deific and governmental righteousness than have ever been abused by sick predators (by orders of magnitude). But as a whole, we never seem to doubt the good intentions of tyranny, i.e. history repeats itself.
                          Churchill said something like: If you are not a liberal at the age of 20, you have no heart. If you are not a conservative at 50 you have no brain.
                          Well, count me among the heartless, brainless Libertarians who appear to me to be the only group in favor of preserving our constitutional protections against excessive government intervention in our lives...among which, by derivation, might be the ability to express ideas and concepts in an open, anonymous public or private forum (exclamation point^3).
                          After 48 years of watching the steady erosion of personal liberties, and the spread of US government control that spills out over the borders and threatens to control the lion's share of the worlds people, heres where I stand: Rabidly anti-religious. Somewhat anarchist. Devoutly social-libertarian. Devoutly in favor of strict limitations on centralized power.
                          And isn't it great to be able to say all that without the Feds (or perhaps worse, religious zealots) being able to track me down easily and threaten my self, my family, and my property (which may or may not be my property anymore (Re: Kelo vs. New London)?
                          Hey, how about this: why don't you just keep a better farking eye on your kids activities, instead taking away my freedoms, a'holes.

                           

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                          •  
                            identicon
                            dorpus, Aug 9th, 2005 @ 8:28am

                            Re: Bad Apples

                            Only problem is, what if these rebellious, indignant social-libertarians also include predators? They will tell you that the government has no business watching their activities.

                            We could live in lawless societies like Somalia or Yemen, where the government has no power and every man carries a gun. Despite all the romanticism, the culture of our "founding fathers" was a Somalia-like place where gunmen ruled the streets, and you had better be on their good side. Most people elect not to live in societies like that.

                             

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                              identicon
                              malhombre, Aug 9th, 2005 @ 9:21am

                              Re: Bad Apples

                              "most people" probably wouldn't want to live in Somalia-like countries...I will relegate that to
                              "Talking about all-or-nothing abolishment is immature" status, per your own previous comment.
                              Somewhere between complete lawlessness and total control is a place with personal freedoms and minimum government intrusion into our lives, particularly in areas that apply to expressions of ideology and reasonable expectations of individual privacy.
                              But maybe it will be best if we all end up in the Big Database, so if any of the sheep should wander to the dark side (i.e. oppose the status quo) then it will be much more expedient to apply the PROD.
                              But, maybe we owe it to ourselves to hand over the keys to the kingdom to government interests who, as everyone would agree, are here to guarantee our safety, and work only in our best interest.

                               

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                              •  
                                identicon
                                malhombre, Aug 9th, 2005 @ 9:25am

                                Re: Bad Apples

                                "But, maybe we owe it to ourselves "...change that to "And, maybe".
                                Oh, and yeah, there just might be predators. Don't tell me, you are one of those "better a few innocent people are imprisoned, than a criminal should walk free" types?

                                 

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                              •  
                                identicon
                                dorpus, Aug 9th, 2005 @ 1:15pm

                                Re: Bad Apples

                                So would you like the "personal freedom" to drive dangerously, practice shooting your rifle next to a school, blast rap music at jet-engine noises at 3AM? Like it or not, individual actions have consequences upon others. I vote for a society where other people's irresponsible actions, what they call "freedom", will not harm me.

                                 

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              •  
                identicon
                thecaptain, Aug 9th, 2005 @ 5:00am

                Re: Bad Apples

                Wow did you guys ever bite the troll...

                Dorpus is in fine form today.

                 

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          •  
            identicon
            Dourpus, Aug 8th, 2005 @ 9:11pm

            Re: Bad Apples

            That's the weakest, most lame line ever,

            You must not get on this site too often. Dorpus quite often posts weak, lame arguments.

             

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  •  
    identicon
    f. salley, Aug 9th, 2005 @ 3:37pm

    Voip and other privacy concerns

    Your comments about FCC's Martin, the VOIP rules, and anonymous surfing strike responsive cords. Police and security forces have never met a freedon or right that they like. They want to be able to locate everyone, everywhere, all the time. History teaches that we cannot ever trust them with our freedoms and rights. These groups scare the public with talk of terrorists, but it is actually their own citizens that they want to strip of their liberty, to control, and to constantly track. If the goal of terrorism was to change a free society into one of minute government control, and loss of liberty and privacy, they have already won--and not without the very willing help of the same governmental authorities charged with the protection of our constitutional liberties and the enforcement of our rights. Government has been looking for these opportunities for decades. I prefer the pre 9/11 days when we were blissfully at risk, but more free of overnment intrusion.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    f. salley, Aug 9th, 2005 @ 3:38pm

    Voip and other privacy concerns

    Your comments about FCC's Martin, the VOIP rules, and anonymous surfing strike responsive cords. Police and security forces have never met a freedon or right that they like. They want to be able to locate everyone, everywhere, all the time. History teaches that we cannot ever trust them with our freedoms and rights. These groups scare the public with talk of terrorists, but it is actually their own citizens that they want to strip of their liberty, to control, and to constantly track. If the goal of terrorism was to change a free society into one of minute government control, and loss of liberty and privacy, they have already won--and not without the very willing help of the same governmental authorities charged with the protection of our constitutional liberties and the enforcement of our rights. Government has been looking for these opportunities for decades. I prefer the pre 9/11 days when we were blissfully at risk, but more free of government intrusion.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    df, Aug 11th, 2005 @ 9:55am

    what is my ip

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Edge, Nov 21st, 2005 @ 11:27am

    Anonymity Online

    I am a student, and the school monitors the sites that we visit so tightly, that I cannot even get access to certain encyclopedias... Sure to an extent it is good, but I personally feel that it is an infringement on our rights, I really enjoyed the article, and I hope that at least they give us a little more privacy...

     

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