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Pros and cons of anonymity
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Mon, 1 Sep 2008 07:56:19 -0400
Begin forwarded message:
From: "Paul Levy" <plevy () citizen org>
Date: August 31, 2008 8:34:53 PM EDT
To: <dave () farber net>, <ip () v2 listbox com>
Subject: Pros and cons of anonymity
I have to assume that this post was not cited as "proof" of a general
proposition, but rather as a reminder that people who speak out
against the rich and/or powerful can face retaliation. Of course,
once the dissident is seized by the police and brought into a vehicle
to be taken to who know where, anonymity is does not prevent the
physical consequences. But had Magomed Yevloyev, the owner of the
ingushetiya.ru site discussed in this article, conducted his website
anonymously, he would perhaps not have been subject to being seized.
Concern about such consequences -- or lesser but still significant
economic or political consequences that American critics often face as
a result of their speech -- is an important reason why many speak
anonymously, and why we need protections or anonymity.
As for Spafford's concern about false rumors posted for purposes of
disruption, I think the answer is that most people take anonymous
postings (or postings from pseudonymous authors who have not built up
credibility based on past posts) with a grain of salt. This does many
anonymous or pseudonymous communications from making significant
contributions to the marketplace of ideas. Authorship -- or unknown
authorship -- is simply one factor that most audiences take into
account when deciding what credence to give.
Finally, Spafford goes to his conclusion "Heck, the secret
police might well plant fully-anonymous stories to justify acts
against dissenters! " And what reason does he have to think that
secret police feel they need such self-justification?
Paul Alan Levy
Public Citizen Litigation Group
1600 - 20th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20009
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- Pros and cons of anonymity David Farber (Sep 01)