Anonymity Online Under Attack: China And Australia

from the anonymity-rights? dept

For the most part, the US has recognized that the right to be anonymous is a form of protected free speech — and yet, anonymity is constantly under attack. Of course, the right to be anonymous is not absolute, but there is value in allowing anonymous speech to occur. With the right to anonymity under attack in the US, it’s even worse in other countries, where such rights aren’t even seen as vital as it is in the US. China, for example, is now requiring news websites to force all commenters to reveal their real identity. Apparently, the government issued a directive demanding such info from all commenters, though, they don’t want to admit it. Even though the newspapers are claiming that they’re doing it to increase “civility” and “social responsibility,” quietly they admit that it’s the government. As for why the gov’t won’t just come out and say it’s for civility and social responsibility (even if it’s to quiet critics), apparently the government is afraid of public backlash:

“The influence of public opinion on the Net is still too big.”

I guess that’s why the idea is to silence them.

Meanwhile, as reports came in last week suggesting that Australia’s latest plan to censor the internet is just about dead, Slashdot notes that Scientologists down under are asking the Australian gov’t to implement severe restrictions on what they refer to as “Religious Vilification” (which, one assumes, means any anti-Scientology comments, among other things). The proposal also suggests that any such site should not be allowed to be operated anonymously. Apparently, Scientologists took the name of the group “Anonymous” that organized protests against the group quite literally.

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Comments on “Anonymity Online Under Attack: China And Australia”

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Anonymous Coward says:

“The influence of public opinion on the Net is still too big.”

Isn’t the alleged purpose of government to serve public opinion? Or at least that’s the pretext of having government, the true reason the government wants to exist is to force the people to serve government and corporate opinion of course. Indeed we need some sort of government against violent crimes and fraud but other than that the purpose of government should be very very limited and it should not create all these pro – corporate laws and artificial monopolies (ie: on cable infrastructure, taxi cab medallions, etc…) and it should not create intellectual property on everything and make it last almost forever and it has no right to destroy anonymous speech on the Internet just because the speech may disagree with it or large corporations.

William E. Gerent says:

First amendment

Most people think the first amendment is only about free speech, but there are other, related things in it, “redress of grievances” being one.

Congress shall make no law… abridging the right of the people to petition their government for … a redress of grievances.

In revolutionary times, anonymity (through the use of a pseudonym) was used by (among others) Benjamin Franklin in order to say what had to be said about the problems that plagued their society while also avoiding a predictable backlash from factions in that society or from the crown.

If we take away anonymity on the internet, we are abridging the right of the people to seek redress in an important public forum. As the risk of speaking goes way up, it will be increasingly unlikely that people will be willing to discuss controversial issues openly and the chance of developing solutions to those issues and of obtaining a societal consensus through discussion will diminish.

If we do this in the U.S. because of the trivial desires of some non-skank or otherwise, we will have thrown onto the trash pile the very thing that made the U.S. what it is (or perhaps what it was) in the first place.

known coward says:

US laws

DO not APPLY IN CHINA. In china an individual has very few privacy rights. It is the greater good for the many, not the individual rights of the few.

In china franklin, adams et al. would have been shot as traitors, not lauded as hero’s.

While it is nice to think the net is all Anarchistic and free, there is no technical reason why it would be. Especially in china, every packet can and will be traced to the fullest extent of the law. Deal with it.

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