The Difference Between Anonymity And Accountability

from the not-tied-to-each-other dept

Recently, it's seemed like online anonymity has been under attack. There's no doubt that people hide behind anonymity online to do bad things -- but it's not necessarily the anonymity that's the problem. Bruce Schneier has an essay up on Wired News pointing out that the real problem is accountability, which can still exist with anonymity, though historically the two have been intertwined. It's a good thing to remember the next time someone speaks out against online anonymity. Usually the problem is actually with accountability.

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  1. identicon
    Wolfger, 12 Jan 2006 @ 4:55am

    Anonymous versus Nickname

    This article is written under the false assumption that posting (for example) as "Wolfger" is anonymous. An identity is an identity, whether it be a name I made up, or a name my parents made up and the government tracks. Perhaps my real name is "Phillipe Gaston"? It isn't... but if it was, and I posted under that name, would it really make me any less "anonymous"? No. Names are not unique in the real world. In fact, they are *more* unique online than in the real world. A google search for Wolfger turns up a lot of results that relate to me. A google for my real name turns up a lot of results on a lot of other people, and not me at all. If I wanted to be unrecognizable, I would post under my real name. :-)

    You may not know the "real names" of sellers on Ebay, but they are far from anonymous. The definition of anonymous is "Having no distinctive character or recognition factor." A consistent name defies that rule, and a truly anonymous netizen has no accountability. The two are truly inextricably entertwined.

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