Gotcha! Why Online Anonymity May Be Fading

But in practice, online anonymity is seeping away. A growing body of legal decisions is making it easier for lawyers to use legal proceedings to unmask people who write anonymous blogs or make anonymous comments on public Web sites.

"You can claim anonymity, but there is a range of things that a judge will use to determine whether you have used your anonymity responsibly," says Judith Donath, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.

Full story here.


so you can only be anonymous if you don't do anything bad... not even illegal, just irresponsible... but yet, use your real name (or a "persistent pseudonym") and responsibility goes out the window (!).

If you're not actually defaming someone or accusing them of something illegeal then what does it matter what you say? The police chief example in the article, if someone had shouted out at him during some hustings would he have rushed over to get his name?
If someone said, Chief x is dealing drugs and having an affair with the Major' you might have a point, but then if that person was a journalist they'd have legal protection anyway. Theres no need to expose people.

I also disagree with the idea that the quality of information gets better if you know who someone is. I get what they mean but when someone builds up a reputation through their actions and is known by a forum name, it's just as, if not more evidence of the quality of their knowledge. Doesn't matter if they are Norman from NY or Willy from Washington. If they are consistantly givcing good information, helping the online community etc, you'll trust them more than other 'official' news and advice outlets. That's a matter of evidence, not perception.

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