The Privacy BlogPrivacy, Security, Cryptography, and Anonymity



In defense of extreme unmoderated anonymity

Doug Feaver – Listening to the Dot-Comments –

I am quite impressed with this article by a former executive editor of the Washington Post. He makes a strong case for the importance of anonymous comments. Attribution immediately leads to self censorship. Anonymous comments give a much better picture of what people really think rather than what they would like to be seen to be thinking. It is not pretty, but it is reality.

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  • AverageJoe · April 18, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    I recently installed Microsoft Home Server, and cannot get Anonymizer to install.

    Is there any way, or patch, that will allow this to work on Home Server?


  • Author comment by lance · April 28, 2009 at 5:44 am

    I will pass this along to our tech support folks to make sure we get an answer for you.


  • Author comment by lance · April 29, 2009 at 6:59 am

    We have not tested the Home Server platform. My folks tell me there is no reason it should NOT work, but it is not something we have looked at. I will make sure they take a look at fixing that.


  • Pat Zentara · July 13, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Perhaps we should not hide behind anonymity any
    more and take full responcsibility for our words and posts.
    I have noticed the growth of more hatful posts
    when one can hide behnd a “nic”.
    Why are we afraid to stand behind our words?
    And allow our friends/compatriots or even foes to live with our words?
    I hope we all learn to be who we are..Hiding
    behind masks? I think not.
    Thank you.
    Anonymizer is great for surfing and is unworkable with a webtv and I am sure other PC’s.


    • Author comment by lance · July 14, 2009 at 5:34 am

      By this reasoning, should the activists in Iran all be posting under their real names? While it is true that many people write abusive posts under the cloak of anonymity, many of the worst flames I have seen have been in true name. I think the cause of the extreme hate filled post is more to do with abstraction. The writer can’t see the reader face to face. I have seen many people who are incredibly abrasive on-line and pussycats in person.

      There is a tendency to equate reputation and accountability with identification. One can easily have one without the other. I have long advocated strong pseudonymity as an effective middle ground. Another issue is that seeing a “real name” makes one think they know who the poster is. In reality, one can make up any name in most places on the Internet. Personally, I like to have it clear when someone is anonymous or not, rather than just guessing.

      None of this should be taken to say that there should not be areas of the Internet that enforce strong identification. Any host of a site or organization should be free to make up and enforce whatever rules they want. I don’t believe in a right to be anonymous in someone else’s back yard. The default condition and assumption should be anonymity, with the ability to create islands of whatever greater level of identification, accountability, reputation, etc. one desires.


  • PXStevey · January 24, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Hi, I’m new I would like to welcome all… 🙂


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