Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A bit of clarification on anonymity

In previous posts (like this one, this one and maybe this one) I've taken a fairly skeptical tone concerning anonymizers and such. I wanted to take the opportunity here to clarify that a bit.

It might seem that I think that tools like anonymizers are a waste of time or that only miscreants are likely to use them. That's not what I think.

There are certain situations where anonymity is extremely valuable. Real journalism requires anonymous sources. Some crimes and abuses will only be exposed if those in the know -- including both victims and perpetrators -- can come forward without risk of identification. Political action sometimes requires anonymity. The Federalist Papers come to mind.

So when I take aim at certain quirks and pitfalls of anonymity, I'm not trying to write off anonymity entirely. I'm just trying to point out aspects of anonymity on the web that are trickier than they might seem (and therefore, frankly, fun to write about).

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