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Re: For those who don't think anonymity is useful on the Internet
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Sun, 31 Aug 2008 19:13:07 -0400

A CSTB sponsored meeting MANY moons ago at the Irvine NAS facility came to a negative conclusion on anonymity in general.

Begin forwarded message:

From: Gene Spafford <spaf () cerias purdue edu>
Date: August 31, 2008 5:55:25 PM EDT
To: dave () farber net
Subject: Re: [IP] For those who don't think anonymity is useful on the Internet

How do we know that anonymity would have made a difference?
* If he actually did try to grab a policeman's gun, would anonymous posting have changed that?
 * Would anonymous posting have protected him from bullets?
* Would anonymous posting have enabled him to become influential in opposition circles (how would they know it was him)?

Anonymity is claimed to have many miraculous properties, but we are unable to conduct parallel testing.

For instance, would pseudonymous posting have provided as much (or more) *real* personal safety as anonymous posting is implied to provide?

And if anonymous posting was available to all residents of Ingushetia, how many lives might be disrupted by people being anonymously denounced as rebels, perverts, criminals, by those who bore grudges or simply wanted to cause discord? Heck, the secret police might well plant fully-anonymous stories to justify acts against dissenters! If you can't prove you are the author, you can't deny when something else is published that purports to be your work....

I am not trying to make the case that anonymity is never useful. However, we should all be a little cautious about claiming "proof" and pretending that it is always a good thing.


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