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Can Outing an Anonymous Blogger be Justified?

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the scruples-be-damned dept.

Privacy 197

netbuzz writes "Absolutely, depending on the circumstances, yet a Florida newspaper's attempt to unmask 'a political group hiding behind the name of a fictitious person' has sparked outrage in some circles. Part of the reason for that outrage is that the paper posted to its Web site a surveillance video of the blogger visiting its advertising department, a tactic the editor says he now regrets. What's really at issue here is the right to publish anonymously vs. the right to remain anonymous. The former exists, the latter does not."

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I've been wondering... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18299962)

Hey Slashdot, why are PC users such ugly dweebs [imageshack.us] in comparison to Mac users [imageshack.us] ? Is it because nobody has the time or patience to put up with Windows/Linux except for friendless, sexless nerds like you?

Re:I've been wondering... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18300018)

Neither the oaf nor the Thai tranny was in any way hot this time. You're slipping, dude.

Re:I've been wondering... (1)

WgT2 (591074) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300020)

What's really at issue here is the right to publish anonymously vs. the right to remain anonymous. The former exists, the latter does not.

What irony it would be if this were applied to the parent poster.

ya (0)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18299972)

Someone just lost a lot of credibility. (the paper) I hope it was worth it.

Re:ya (1)

SilentChris (452960) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300098)

And?

Nothing what they did was illegal.

Further, any blogger (any internet user, and in particular any Slashdot user) should know that online anonymity is impossible. The best take their real names and run with it. The worst stand behind a glass wall and wonder how people figure out who they really are.

Re:ya (1)

mikael (484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300166)

A more civilised approach would have been for the editors to have run an article on the issue and offered to invite both parties (the blogger and the political candidate) for interviews. The purpose of the CCTV system is to protect the staff of the advertising office, not to publicly expose people the editors have taken a dislike to.

Re:ya (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18300244)

Figure out who I am.

Re:ya (1)

SilentChris (452960) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300390)

"Figure out who I am."

I couldn't. CmdrTaco and friends could easily. Feel safe?

Re:ya (1)

Ultra64 (318705) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300892)

I couldn't. CmdrTaco and friends could easily. Feel safe?
Sure, they might be able to go to that guy's ISP and ask for the name of whoever had that IP address at the time of the message. But what if the person with the IP address has a wireless router? What if the poster is just war-driving by?

Re:ya (1)

kirun (658684) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300670)

Nothing what they did was illegal.

I don't see what that has to do with anything. The law is not there to say what is right and wrong. The interaction between the ad department and the news department will cause a credibility hit, as it now seems somebody in news owes the ad people a favour.

Re:ya (5, Insightful)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300672)

Nothing what they did was illegal.

There is lot that is not illegal. But, the paper's ethics must be called into question. Aside from threats to national security made in a blog, or confession to a felony in a blog, I'm hard pressed to see why outing someone who has chosen to write pseudonymously would be considered ethical.

Further, any blogger (any internet user, and in particular any Slashdot user) should know that online anonymity is impossible. The best take their real names and run with it. The worst stand behind a glass wall and wonder how people figure out who they really are.

Without the ability to publish, blog, speak anonymously, many of the world's tyrannical governments would not have been challenged, taken down, or seceded from. We, the U.S., did it to King George III and much of the public was influenced to support the effort, in part, through the publishing of anonymous, or pseudonymous tracts.

Yes, there are those who tried to uncover the writers, publishers, and distributors. But, in the end, whose interests do they serve?

I will put this forward, a newspaper that denies another's freedom to speak politically under a cloak of anonymity, should lose its right to exist. In other words, they protect the rights of others so their right is protected.

Re:ya (2, Insightful)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 7 years ago | (#18301102)

I'm hard pressed to see why outing someone who has chosen to write pseudonymously would be considered ethical.

Because it's a question of public interest: Is the person a single entity acting on his own or a front for a political group or "think tank"? In short, is it grass-roots or Astroturf?

Re:ya (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18301090)

Yes, because nothing says credibility like some anonymous blogger spouting off on the internet as if the entire world is bowing before them and eagerly awaiting each and every snip of news from them.

Does not, eh? (4, Interesting)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#18299978)

What's really at issue here is the right to publish anonymously vs. the right to remain anonymous. The former exists, the latter does not.

Is that like how the Constitution provides specific grounds for revoking habeas corpus, but it's OK if the government ignores it because you don't have the right in the first place?

How can one claim that someone has the right to "publish anonymously" if a person cannot be anonymous?

Re:Does not, eh? (3, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 7 years ago | (#18299994)

Actually, neither 'right' with regards to anonymnity is enumerated in the Constitution, nor is any right to privacy outside of unlawful searches.

Re:Does not, eh? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18300048)

And they're not required to be!

* Ninth Amendment - Protection of rights not specifically enumerated in the Bill of Rights.
        The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Re:Does not, eh? (0)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300100)

Non sequiter. What you quote means that other rights retained by the people cannot be trampled on inadvertently by the rights enumerated. In other words, you can't ues your right to bear arms to take my right to life (except in self defense).

Good try though.

Re:Does not, eh? (5, Insightful)

k_187 (61692) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300270)

No, I disagree. The constitution does not give us our rights. We, as humans, have natural rights endowed from wherever it is that we came from. The listing of specific rights in the Bill of Rights and elsewhere in the Constitution does not limit our natural rights to what is listed. Remember, the Bill of Rights was added because some states were not willing to sign on without explicit enumeration of some of those natural rights. Originally, Madison didn't believe the Bill of Rights necessary. Thus, the question really isn't "does the constitution grant us these rights?", but "is this a right that already existed, but has not yet been enumerated?"

Re:Does not, eh? (1)

Jackmn (895532) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300302)

We, as humans, have natural rights endowed from wherever it is that we came from.
What evidence or reasoning supports this? Rights as they exist is modern countries are entirely a human construct.

Re:Does not, eh? (5, Insightful)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300720)

What evidence or reasoning supports this?

The framers of the constitution believed that this was a "self-evident" fact -- something that would be understood to be true by any reasonable person upon considered reflection, requiring no evidence beyond that.

Now, that's a rather controversial idea. But, whether we accept the existence of self-evident facts or not, it remains true that the U.S. Constitution was written by people who specifically did believe that rights were not granted by government. Rather, that rights are inherent in persons by their very nature. A government can, in this view, protect your rights, ignore your rights, or even infringe upon your rights. But it can't possibly grant you any rights nor remove any rights from you, since that's not something within the power of government. Government is just a collection of people, with no ability to make fundamental changes to human nature by fiat. To assume otherwise is to assume collections of people are somehow able to wield god-like powers simply by virtue of acting collectively, and that's absurd.

So, whether one accepts this premise or not, one needs to read the Constitution with the understand that it was written with this point of view in mind, and needs to be interpreted accordingly.

Re:Does not, eh? (1)

k_187 (61692) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300860)

What does it mean to be human? I would argue that our natural rights to expression are an integral part of being human.

Re:Does not, eh? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300900)

Rights as they exist is modern countries are entirely a human construct.


So? I'm not sure what point you were trying to make with this inane comment, but everything which has to do with humans and societies are "human constructs". Does that make them less important, or more?

The greatest advance brought by the enlightenment is the idea and recognition that ALL rights flow from the people. Governments don't give us rights, they can only try to take them away. It is we that give the government rights, not the other way around. This basic fact gets lost in an age where scared, ignorant people are manipulated by government and industry, using a lazy, captive media.

But the desire for liberty is remarkably robust in people. It emerges even in the most beaten down, the most unlikely. And the pendulum is swinging back in this country (US). Despite a hard core 30% of dead-enders who just don't care about their own freedom, rule of law or right and wrong, a strong sense of anger and outrage is starting to be felt. It's long overdue, and feels really good.

Re:Does not, eh? (1)

inviolet (797804) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300968)

We, as humans, have natural rights endowed from wherever it is that we came from.
What evidence or reasoning supports this? Rights as they exist is modern countries are entirely a human construct.

Rights are a human construct, yes, because doesn't put up little signs that say "Here is how to run a society." Rights are, nevertheless, essential and inherent.

They are essential in the sense that they represent the requirements of human survival in societies. Not just any society will do; the way that humans function requires that their society follows certain patterns. A society which allowed murder would run contrary to humans' essential requirement that violence be restrained (so as to allow survival by thought and long-term productivity).

They are inherent in the sense that they are dictated by our nature, not from our desires or political expediency. Wherever humans are, if they are to live together, they cannot escape their need for property recognition, restraint of coercion, and so on. (Humans can exist for a limited period of time without these, of course, but that existence will be "nasty, brutish, and short" -- as an animal's.)

To put this another way: rights are the conditions necessary for humans to operate rationally in a society. Whatever restraints we mutually require upon each other, in order to live as rational, conceptual, long-ranged, technological creatures, are our rights. To the extent that our government recognizes these rights, and defends them, our society will prosper; to the extent that they are ignored (as they often are), our society withers.

Having said all this, it's not obvious to me that privacy is a right. Privacy these days has come to mean the ability to constrain the gathering and use of information about ourselves. That's a reasonable desire given that it is our nature to feel physical pain at others' disapproval (we are tribal animals after all), but it's also our nature to gather maximum information about our environment in order to optimize our choices... hmmm...

Re:Does not, eh? (4, Insightful)

kclittle (625128) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300422)

You have a right to obey causality. You have a right to obey gravity. You have a right to keep your velocity under the speed of light at all times. You have a right to conserve energy/mass.

These and their like are the only "natural" rights "endowed" upon you by the universe -- in fact, they are *forced* upon you.

Any other supposed rights (freedom of speech, freedom to vote, freedom to chase girls, a.k.a. freedom to pursue happiness) are fictions created by the mind of man as he negotiates his way in the company of other humans.

Now, I certainly enjoy having these rights (especially the one about chasing girls), but I'm under no illusion that they exist in nature external to homo sap.

Re:Does not, eh? (4, Insightful)

Oonushi (863093) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300644)

You have the ability to say "No" (or to silently resists if you happen to be mute) to anyone who tries to deny you those rights that you claim are "created in the mind of man". The Constitution and the Bill of Rights simply tell the government where they do and don't have authority over its citizens, who in turn agree to submit themselves to that authority.

Your ability to resist imposed authority is as natural as the law of gravity, therefore the only time your rights don't naturally exist, is when you don't defend them.

Re:Does not, eh? (1)

pallmall1 (882819) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300850)

...but I'm under no illusion that they exist in nature external to homo sap.
Only if nature does not include self-aware intelligence.

Re:Does not, eh? (1)

Esteanil (710082) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300916)

You have a right to obey causality. You have a right to obey gravity. You have a right to keep your velocity under the speed of light at all times. You have a right to conserve energy/mass.

That's what it must be like to be arrested by the Physics Police :p

Why do you wear a mask? (1)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300674)

I agree with you, in rights being "self evident". I disagree with you that anonymity is one of those rights. At it's best anonymity is a form of security through obscurity. Why is this security needed? To voice an unpopular opinion? If that opinion is what you believe, why do you need to hide? If you hide out of fear of a violent reprisal, then the problem is that you are not truely secure in your rights to life and liberty. Fix that problem, don't mask it with a thin veil of anonymity. If you are afriad of social reprisals, well then you have some soul searching to do about your friends. The only other reason that Immediately occurs to me to "need" anonymity, is because you are ashamed of your actions or you are doing something illegal, I see no reason to protect those with a supposed "right".

Re:Why do you wear a mask? (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300810)

If that opinion is what you believe, why do you need to hide? If you hide out of fear of a violent reprisal, then the problem is that you are not truely secure in your rights to life and liberty.

The country has basically decided that rights should only be protected from the government, and that companies and individuals can trample these rights all they want, and in fact the government can hire, ask, or even order those companies and individuals to trample on your rights without infringing on them itself.

Re:Why do you wear a mask? (1)

k_187 (61692) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300834)

One could argue that privacy is like property, you have no right to intrude upon mine without good reason. Implict in your argument that one is "ashamed of your actions" is that others have a right to know what I am doing. Right to privacy isn't necessarily a right to anonymity, but a right to keep others out.

Re:Why do you wear a mask? (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300862)

If you hide out of fear of a violent reprisal, then the problem is that you are not truely secure in your rights to life and liberty. Fix that problem, don't mask it with a thin veil of anonymity.
Fix it, how? By demanding that other people protect me, the same people I might be criticizing? Or by fortifying myself?

Self fortification isn't something that should be necessary in order to speak an opinion. That's why we have punishments for violent crimes. The problem is, no punishment can be a sufficient deterrent for some motivations, or we wouldn't have people who martyr themselves for good or for ill.

Not to mention that effective means of self-fortification are often either illegal (as in the case of firearms for people not permitted to have them, or who live in states that prohibit carry), frowned upon (Sure, it's not illegal, in most states, to carry a pistol in a TAC holster. But you know someone's going to call 911 if you walk into that mall.), or requires years of training to obtain any degree of skill (i.e. martial arts).

In short, fear of violent reprisal is not something that can be allayed.

If you are afriad of social reprisals, well then you have some soul searching to do about your friends.
Uh, social reprisal isn't limited to my friends. It also includes my coworkers and anybody who might recognize my face.

The only other reason that Immediately occurs to me to "need" anonymity, is because you are ashamed of your actions or you are doing something illegal.
Shame is a social construct, a method of many people imposing their way of life on a few individuals, and is intended to represent when one violates what others consider decent behavior.

Illegal acts are merely those acts for which government (which may or may not be based on the will of society, depending on the case) has deemed it necessary to punish.

I see no reason to protect those with a supposed "right".
Then you logically throw out the concept of individuality in its entirety.

BTW...you missed financial reprisal. That's rather surprising, because SLAPP and big-pockets-versus-little-pockets is a daily topic around here.

Re:Does not, eh? (1)

Trailer Trash (60756) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300730)

Note, too, that the Bill of Rights is really only a list of individual rights in a roundabout way. In reality, it's a list of limitations on government; first a list of limitations on what laws can even be created in this land later clarified to state that this list of limitations is on the entire federal government (all three branches) as well as all other governments within the US. This is how it should be.

In the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson states "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men..." Those words probably have the highest truth:word-count ratio possible.

Anyway, you are very right. And I would submit that one of the biggest problems that we have in modern politics is getting people and government to understand the concept that government doesn't give people rights. Even if that were the idea (and it's not supposed to be in the US), it demonstrably never works.

Re:Does not, eh? (1)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 7 years ago | (#18301072)

Thus, the question really isn't "does the constitution grant us these rights?", but "is this a right that already existed, but has not yet been enumerated?"

Rather, it denies me the right to deny you these rights. Before annoying things like laws, I would be within my rights if I sewed your mouth shut for saying something I didn't like.

Re:Does not, eh? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18300274)

you can't ues your right to bear arms to take my right to life

Unless you mean that seeing someone with a gun causes you to keel over and die, I'd think it's you with the non sequitur here.

Good try though.

It is clear from the writings of the founding fathers that what he quoted does not mean "that other rights retained by the people cannot be trampled on inadvertently by the rights enumerated". It is clear that they wrote the Ninth and Tenth Amendments in order to indicate that A) the rights of people enumerated in the Constitution are not exhaustive and B) the powers of the government enumerated in the constitution are.

Re:Does not, eh? (4, Informative)

Gorobei (127755) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300320)

That is not what the ninth amendment says, nor does it reflect the intent of the writers.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Pretty simple: sounds like unnamed rights are not to denied or weakened because other rights were explicitly enumerated in the Constitution.

Lets see if that was the intent of the writers. Madison:

It has been objected also against a Bill of Rights, that, by enumerating particular exceptions to the grant of power, it would disparage those rights which were not placed in that enumeration; and it might follow by implication, that those rights which were not singled out, were intended to be assigned into the hands of the General Government, and were consequently insecure. This is one of the most plausible arguments I have ever heard against the admission of a bill of rights into this system; but, I conceive, that it may be guarded against. I have attempted it, as gentlemen may see by turning to the last clause of the fourth resolution.

Hmm, he agrees with the orignal poster, not you.

Hamilton?

The exceptions here or elsewhere in the constitution, made in favor of particular rights, shall not be so construed as to diminish the just importance of other rights retained by the people; or as to enlarge the powers delegated by the constitution; but either as actual limitations of such powers, or as inserted merely for greater caution.

Wow, he agrees with the original poster too.

Re:Does not, eh? (4, Insightful)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300430)

Non sequiter. What you quote means that other rights retained by the people cannot be trampled on inadvertently by the rights enumerated. In other words, you can't ues your right to bear arms to take my right to life (except in self defense).

Good try though.
No, you're an idiot. If you actually knew anything about the history of the bill of rights, you'd know that the 9th was a concession to Hamilton and others, who believed that a bill of rights was unwise:

"I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and in the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers which are not granted; and on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do?" -Hamilton, Alexander. The Federalist Papers, #84. "On opposition to a Bill of Rights."

The 9th (and 10th, for that matter) was included to address Hamilton's specific issues. But let us read the 9th amendment itself, and deduce its meaning based on what it actually says:

"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

See, I don't know where you get the hare-brained idea that the 9th has something to do with enumerated rights trumping one another. It very fucking clearly says what it means. Allow me to paraphrase:

"The fact that we chose to write down a Top Ten List of rights does not in any way imply that the people do not retain a multitude of other rights"

I'd sure love to see you cite a source for your laughable interpretation of the 9th Amendment. The 9th has been routinely ignored by many, but no sane person has ever claimed it meant other than what it says.

Re:Does not, eh? (4, Interesting)

penix1 (722987) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300656)

I'd sure love to see you cite a source for your laughable interpretation of the 9th Amendment. The 9th has been routinely ignored by many, but no sane person has ever claimed it meant other than what it says.


There is a source for that interpretation. The sad fact is it comes from the lead attorney for the United States.

http://thinkprogress.org/2007/01/19/gonzales-habea s/ [thinkprogress.org]

Of course, it isn't correct but shows that the man should never have been confirmed.

B.

Re:Does not, eh? (1)

MasterGwaha (1033282) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300726)

Well, at least we know how Aaron Burr responded to that...

What right to life? (1)

sheldon (2322) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300602)

I see no Right to Life specifically enumerated in the Bill of Rights.

Re:What right to life? (2, Interesting)

penix1 (722987) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300804)

You are correct that there is no "right to life" enumeration in the Constitution. However, there is one in the Declaration of Independence. Add that to the 9th Amendment and you do have a right to life. The founders were religious men and these documents reflect that. The right to life was enumerated as one of their main reasons to sever the ties to England. They believed the right to life was granted by a higher power so its enumeration to the Constitution was unnecessary besides being already covered in the document that started this nation to begin with.

From the Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
 

Re:Does not, eh? (4, Insightful)

FutureDomain (1073116) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300056)

The Constitution protects the "Freedom of the Press", but not the "Freedom of Anonymity of the Press". There are steps you can take if you want to remain anonymous, but no laws preventing someone from outing a blogger who doesn't keep his identity a well-kept secret.

Re:Does not, eh? (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300144)

And yet, at the time of the writing of the Constitution, publishing under psuedonyms was common practice, even by the Founding Fathers.

Re:Does not, eh? (1)

kclittle (625128) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300224)

So? That doesn't mean they felt they had a "right" to remain anonymous, as is evidenced by the fact that those same Founding Fathers did not see it appropriate to include said "right" as an 11th Amendment in the Bill of Rights.

Re:Does not, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18300446)

Yeah, cause the only rights we have are the ones specifically enumerated in the constitution, right?

I usually don't post Anon, but I'll do it this time.

Re:Does not, eh? (1)

kclittle (625128) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300588)

Yeah, cause the only rights we have are the ones specifically enumerated in the constitution, right?

Nope, not at all. But such "other" rights, if claimed, have to be proven through the legal system (this thread is about legal rights). IANAL, but no U.S. court that I know of has ever ruled that a writer/blogger/pundit has the right to remain anonymous.

Re:Does not, eh? (1)

epee1221 (873140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300620)

as is evidenced by the fact that those same Founding Fathers did not see it appropriate to include said "right" as an 11th Amendment
No, they didn't need to include an eleventh -- they had the ninth.

Re:Does not, eh? (3, Insightful)

ronanbear (924575) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300426)

And yet the paper would argue that it's allowed to protect its sources. You can't have it both ways privacy is not a privilege that may be conferred by a newspapers whim.

Either the press has the freedom that allows it to publish anonymous sources or it doesn't. If they have the right they should have respected the bloggers rights.

Re:Does not, eh? (1)

kclittle (625128) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300474)

The right of a journalist to protect his/her sources has no bearing on the right of a source to expect/demand protection, either from the journalist or a third party. There is *no* right to remain anonymous.

Re:Does not, eh? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300642)

The newspaper's ethics here are poor. They didn't break the law, and what they did should not be made illegal. The Constitution mostly exists to enjoin the government, so it isn't hugely relevant to the behavior of the newspaper towards a private citizen. So in fact, we do have it both ways; the government can't(broadly) restrict the newspaper, but the newspaper can screw over anybody it wants.

Re:Does not, eh? (1)

DRJlaw (946416) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300750)

You can't have it both ways privacy is not a privilege that may be conferred by a newspapers whim.

Either the press has the freedom that allows it to publish anonymous sources or it doesn't. If they have the right they should have respected the bloggers rights.


You've misconstrued the ability of a newspaper to protect its sources. Most states prevent their prosecutors from compelling a newspaper to reveal its sources to the government because permitting such a power would chill free speech. Note that the federal government doesn't believe this, and the Supreme Court doesn't believe this either.

Yet nothing prevents the government or others from hunting down the anonymous source in a way that bypasses the newspaper.

Similarly, the blogger does not have to reveal himself. But the government and others, and yes even a newspaper, are free to hunt down the blogger's identity.

For some reason you appear to believe that someone's decision to protect a source means that everyone, or at least other newspapers, should also protect that source. Vegans believe that people shouldn't eat animals or animal byproducts. Both beliefs have about the same likelihood of becoming universally observed.

Re:Does not, eh? (3, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300752)

And yet the paper would argue that it's allowed to protect its sources.
Most States have laws that allow journalists to protect their anonymous sources.
Note: There is no similar Federal Law.

You can't have it both ways privacy is not a privilege that may be conferred by a newspapers whim
I'm not sure what you mean by that. If the newspapers find out your secret... then you're subject to their whim.

Either the press has the freedom that allows it to publish anonymous sources or it doesn't.
They do, at the state level.

If they have the right they should have respected the bloggers rights.
What right did he have? The right to publish anonymously?
He used it.

You seem to be fundamentally misunderstanding the right to publish anonymously. All it means is that the Government can't make anonymous publishing a crime. What it doesn't mean is that no one is allowed to figure out who you are and tell the world.

Staying anonymous was the bloggers job.
What legal obligation did the newspaper have to keep his identity a secret?

No, there is a HUGE difference, the sources are KN (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300760)

The sources of a newspaper are KNOWN, they are NOT anonymous, except to the public at large, but the reporter and editor and in fact the entire newspaper staff ARE known. So we still got a degree of accountability. If you want to remain anonymous as a news source you must first convince a reporter to risk being thrown in jail (a legal action that can be used by the state) to reveal his sources.

However if you publish anonymous on a blog, you got no such layer, anyone can do it, and without anyone to throw in jail to force the revelation of the sources.

Protected sources are a very important part of western civilization that allows newspaper to obtain news from people who are at risk for disclosing it. Anonymous writers are an entirely different story. There is nobody you can go to if they are saying outright lies.

It is about layers of trust, a newssouce will have with you an X amount of trust.

Now wich story do you trust more, a story written by a known writer citing publicly available records and quoting known officials?

Or a story written by a known writer quoting people that don't want to be named by are identified as sources close too X.

Or a story on the letter pape signed by A.Nonymous.

Only an idiot would attach the same weight to all three. Blogs fall in the last group.

Read up on reuters and the numerous doctored and staged photo's from the lebanon war just how dangerous it is to accept new sources as truthfull that are not.

A reporter can keep his sources anonymous, that does NOT mean that the source is unknown to the reporter. HUGE difference. I would trust a reporter that uses anonymous sources (people UNKNOWN to him) about as far as I wuld trust a slashdot poster.

realize what you are saying, if a report publishes anonymous sources (unknown to him) he would be publishing stuff he can't verify at all. Even gossip columinists frown on that.

Re:Does not, eh? (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300704)

One could argue that the lack of anonymity places a burdon on the press by exposing the speaker to burdons which should not be associated with speech. For example, someone who says something controversial on a hot-button topic can be subsequently exposed to death threats, financial ruin, etc.

Speech should not be associated with reputation, and credentials only serve to build the reputation of a speaker. If you want me to believe something, give me logic I can judge for myself, based on facts which may be verified.

The only current down-side of anonymity is the necessity that an accused individual needs to be able to face his attackers. Our courts and culture are structured (and being further restructured) with the assumption of guilt, with the accused required to support his own position. This is true both in law (with the government paying a salaried lawyer to put you in jail) and in society (where 90% of communication is gossip).

Re:Does not, eh? (1)

AlanS2002 (580378) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300250)

Actually, neither 'right' with regards to anonymnity is enumerated in the Constitution, nor is any right to privacy outside of unlawful searches.

The US constitution is neither the first nor the last word on what can be spoken of as rights, if you submit to being able to have a meaningful conversation of such things in the first place.

Re:Does not, eh? (2, Insightful)

kenwd0elq (985465) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300988)

The "right to privacy" doesn't NEED to be enumerated: Amendment IX The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. Amendment X The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. The text of the Constitution http://constitution.org/cons/constitu.htm [constitution.org] is pretty clear; the Federal government has only the 19 enumerated powers of Article I, Section 8, and the States (or the people) have all the other rights and powers. The People have a right to privacy; the Federal government has no authority to ban it. Just as, absent the 18th Amendment, the government had no authority to ban alcohol, and the government has NEVER had the authority to ban drugs. (The STATES do, but that's another story.)

Re:Does not, eh? (5, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300030)

> Is that like how the Constitution provides specific grounds for revoking habeas corpus,
> but it's OK if the government ignores it because you don't have the right in the first
> place?

No. Aside from the fact that you do have the right to habeas corpus, this has nothing to do with the government at all.

> How can one claim that someone has the right to "publish anonymously" if a person cannot
> be anonymous?

You have the right to "publish anonymously". You have the right to be anonymous. However, no one is obligated to help you be anonymous. It's up to you to keep your identity secret. If you screw up and your secret gets out, tough.

I wouldn't do business with a paper that publishes surveillance videos of its customers, though.

Re:Does not, eh? (1)

C0R1D4N (970153) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300572)

I would, publishing a video in a newspaper must be an incredible feat!

Re:Does not, eh? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18300036)

There is no requirement to identify yourself when you publish. That is "the right to publish anonymously". It is not a guarantee: You can't say "this is not to be linked to me" and expect someone else (like the government) to make sure that it isn't. If you want to stay anonymous, it is your responsibility, hence no right to remain anonymous.

Re:Does not, eh? (3, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300298)

It's still pretty rude (or worse) for the newspaper in question to do something like this, whether it's a violation of some sort of intrinsic civil liberty / constitutional right / etc or otherwise. Therein lies the rub. Not everything has to be some sort of civil liberties violation or against the law for it to be the Wrong Thing to Do.

Re:Does not, eh? (1)

FLEB (312391) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300600)

First off, I think your fundamental argument (some things aren't illegal, but just a lousy thing to do) is true, and something a lot of people forget about.

However, unless this person is in identified real danger, there's a case to be made that there's a public service in exposing an anonymous editorializer. On one hand, absolute freedom of speech may be chilled or curtailed by required identification. On the other hand, though, people with bad or incorrect ideas can avoid necessary criticism, scrutiny, and feedback by sniping from the shadows.

Re:Does not, eh? (1)

sugapablo (600023) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300472)

Plenty of places where people can post anonymously. Lots of Anonymous Cowards here. :)

Plenty of public machines and IP addresses where you can post to anonymous message boards and editable pages like http://subuse.net/ [subuse.net] and http://subuse.net/level2 [subuse.net]

Video of a fictitious person? (0, Troll)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 7 years ago | (#18299982)

I'd like to see that.

Re:Video of a fictitious person? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18300242)

I'd like to see that.


Try Batman Begins or Passion of the Christ. (Posting as an anonymous for obvious reasons.)

Re:Video of a fictitious person? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18300590)

Nice try with your attempt at anonymity. I captured you on a surveillance tape. You're actually George Albert Wells! (Posting as an anonymous for obvious reasons.)

Re:Video of a fictitious person? (1)

Marko DeBeeste (761376) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300528)

Anime

Isn't their take bass-ackwards? (4, Interesting)

siglercm (6059) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300014)

What's really at issue here is the right to publish anonymously vs. the right to remain anonymous. The former exists, the latter does not.
It seems to me that their conclusion is, logically, the wrong way around. IMHO, we all have the right to remain anonymous. However, if we want to publish we may give up that right. Publishing is totally different from being an anonymous source of information, quoted in a publication.

Or am I off my rocker?

Re:Isn't their take bass-ackwards? (1)

AlanS2002 (580378) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300190)

My thoughts exactly. Do we not, by publishing something in the public domain, by definition invite a lack of anonymity?

Re:Isn't their take bass-ackwards? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300540)

Only if you piss off the wrong people.

The problem is not so much that veil of anonymity can be pierced, but that the government has, in the midst of its own quest to make our private lives a thing of the past, provided would-be piercers with way too much ammunition.

Im sorry but (3, Funny)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300054)

When I think of "anonymous bloggers", I get this image [penny-arcade.com] .

Or, I recall that "Multiple Theology Degree, exquisite super-intelligentsia" Essjay [wikipedia.org] . Oh, thats right.. He's a redneck hick who lives about 80 Mi south of me (Louisville, KY).

Anybody can say whatever they want, but due to the "Credibility" of the internet, it usually means something is going to be believed. Not good, as most people haven't the logic or intelligence to discern real from fiction.

Can Outing an Anonymous Blogger be Justified? (5, Insightful)

toupsie (88295) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300068)

Absolutely. Journalism should not be the art of protecting secrets. The first amendment right to a free press does not have a caveat that states that people with hidden agendas are protected from exposure. As long as this is not a government mandated revelation of secrecy of a citizen, there is no issue at hand. The press has a right and I feel a duty to expose all that want to be a part of the public debate both for and against what I personally believe. The only reason the editor feels that this was a bad choice is that he doesn't have the requisite reproductive organs to stand up for what they did which was good reporting. There is no right to anonymity when to start to engage in the public debate. If you can maintain it, that is through your own efforts and not through some Constitutional mechanism.

Re:Can Outing an Anonymous Blogger be Justified? (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300172)

I'm thinking of the cases where corporations have been posing as bloggers to promote their products. Undoubtedly a case where revealing them is justified.

This sounds very similar. A political group posing as an individual? Please. They're misrepresenting themselves and then they get mad when someone calls them on it?

Re:Can Outing an Anonymous Blogger be Justified? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18300198)

Absolutely. Journalism should not be the art of protecting secrets. The first amendment right to a free press does not have a caveat that states that people with hidden agendas are protected from exposure.


Does that include journalistic sources? If someone were to follow up on Woodward and Bernstein and expose "Deep Throat", would that be fine by you? After all, he had his secret agenda as well... (Anger at not being promoted to be head of FBI after Hoover left).

Re:Can Outing an Anonymous Blogger be Justified? (1)

AlanS2002 (580378) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300234)

Does that include journalistic sources? If someone were to follow up on Woodward and Bernstein and expose "Deep Throat", would that be fine by you? After all, he had his secret agenda as well... (Anger at not being promoted to be head of FBI after Hoover left).

He might very well of had an agenda, but he did not publish. That took a decision or not of a journalist.

Re:Can Outing an Anonymous Blogger be Justified? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18300722)

I hate to say "that depends", but we know about things with Witness Protection programs. If it's just a matter of covering your pride? Shut up and take it like a man. Some of these things were placed here in order to legitimately protect people.

What protection should there be for a person who creates false documents in order discredit an individual? What protection should there be for a person who falsely accuses an individual of a serious criminal offense? What about skating around legal loopholes for a political agenda?

Was "Deep Throat" "outed" in 1978 (for instance), it's doubtful that any physical threat would exist. Sure, some career paths may be changed by the discovery, but others would have been opened.

Yes, innocent victims need to be protected. Yes, people need to be able to blow the whistle on safety issues in the workplace. Yes, people should be able to blow the horn on something crooked going on in the government. No that should not be a broad-spectrum treatment for all actions.

You bet! (3, Informative)

toupsie (88295) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300248)

Does that include journalistic sources? If someone were to follow up on Woodward and Bernstein and expose "Deep Throat", would that be fine by you? After all, he had his secret agenda as well... (Anger at not being promoted to be head of FBI after Hoover left).

Damn skippy it would! The country spent nearly 35 years trying to figure that Deep Throat was William Mark Felt, Sr. Every journalist interested in Washington politics wasn on the hunt for the identity of the real Deep Throat. Journalists that keep secrets from the public are betraying their audience. Sometimes the audience puts up with it like in the case of Deep Throat.

Re:Can Outing an Anonymous Blogger be Justified? (1)

MrSteveSD (801820) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300264)

Surely the ability for people to address the public anonymously is beneficial and should be protected. e.g. Anonymous whistle-blowers.

Re:Can Outing an Anonymous Blogger be Justified? (1)

toupsie (88295) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300318)

Surely the ability for people to address the public anonymously is beneficial and should be protected. e.g. Anonymous whistle-blowers.

So we are going to create a protected class of citizens that can infringe on the first amendment rights of others? Who gets to decide who can maintain a protected state of anonymity? This is bad policy. Sunshine is always the best environment for speech.

Re:Can Outing an Anonymous Blogger be Justified? (1)

polar red (215081) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300448)

Yes, if you are not in danger of being prosecuted for your opinions. Try saying the war in Iraq is unjustified, you'll get your dose of hatred, isn't it so, dixie chicks ?

Re:Can Outing an Anonymous Blogger be Justified? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18300520)

The dixie chicks got the bad rap because they badmouthed all Texans [theage.com.au] (and were too cowardly to say so to their faces), not because of any political issues. It would also be rather difficult to say that they didn't gain from the exposure.

Re:Can Outing an Anonymous Blogger be Justified? (2, Insightful)

gclef (96311) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300684)

The constitution does not exist to protect you from the hatred of others. You are free to speak your mind. So are the people who disagree with you. This is how it should be.

Whistleblowers and informants are a case where the privacy of a source should be protected by the government officials that they are working with, but that is not a constitutional right. Again, this is how it should be. Whistleblower's treatment need to be balanced against the rights of the accused. An incredibly important right in the constitution is the right of an accused person to face their accuser. Anonymous whistleblowers risk violating that right of the accused, which is a terrible thing and ripe for abuse.

Re:Can Outing an Anonymous Blogger be Justified? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18300526)

So I will write this anonymously, just for effect.

Companies, politicians, and celebrities abhor the anonymity that the internet can provide, and so they hunt and battle it endlessly. However, they do this for selfish reasons, simply put. No one likes to be bad mouthed and their first thought is revenge. They don't care if it is a lone disgruntled person or an opponents organized effort. They just want to know and incorrectly assume they have the right to know. They do not.

If they are able to, by legal means, determine the person's identity, then that is fine. That means looking for mistakes, posting hints (like the video) and asking for help, or in the case where they can demonstrate to a court a reasonable probability of libel, then they should be able to get a subpoena. However, they should not be allowed to gain identity by illegal means, like HP and their pretexting or with bogus SLAPP lawsuits or subpoenas. Most often they claim their is a conspiracy, a political one or a shorting conspiracy or an employee using confidential information, and try to get a subpoena for IP or other privileged info on those basis, with no proof whatsoever of slander, libel, etc. That, is the divide between when someone has rights to anonymity and when legal means are justified to expose the person. There is no basis (unless the person makes a claim that they broke the law or was an insider or etc) to use that as a reason to unmask them. The only reason to unmask them is if in their statements they break the law.

And again, if the person trying to be anonymous makes a mistake and can be unmasked without breaking the law, that is just fair game.

Re:Can Outing an Anonymous Blogger be Justified? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18300626)

Keep in mind that honesty and accuracy are important, as well. Disregarding "Media Bias", think of how many folks complain when something false or inaccurate is printed? Letters to the Editor are likewise full of either "preaching to the choir" or damning the side chosen by a particular person. However, the person is known, even if it is by a pen-name.

The Internet's given more people a voice and outlet than previously was possible, and permits this with a degree of privacy & anonymity. As the technology becomes cheaper, this only increases. You, I, or anyone else can create a page somewhere in five minutes, and say pretty much whatever we want. If a law is being broken, then that anonymity will go away, with a speed dependent on the severity of the infraction.

Just because one can anonymously post online, does not mean that s/he has the Constitutional right to remain that way. I don't see that anywhere in the document. In fact, it looks in this case as if "good journalism" won. Well, that, and bad moves on the "outed" party. Despite the fact that "The Media" is generally biased to one side or another, some of these "Anonymous" folks really discredit them.

yup (1)

Diotallevi (688468) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300078)

now this isnt the evil repressive gov-mint doing the outing. a news guy hunting a story....the blogger is fair game. considering blogs or really internet news is replacing the old paper and editorial pages, and are gathering thousands of readers, some bloggers are becoming sorta online celebrities. welcome the new bloggeratzzi to the internet era!

Dear Dumbass, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18300118)

Thanks for your interest in paying us money. Please note that in an effort to serve you better, we will go to great pains to expose you in an unflattering way so as to benefit our corporate stability by increasing brand awareness through scandalogy. Now, will that be cash or charge?

Next!

-1, poor style (3, Interesting)

pla (258480) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300146)

Can Outing an Anonymous Blogger be Justified?
Absolutely, depending on the circumstances


No editorial slant on this FP, no-sir-ee!

Many of our fundamental "rights" in the modern world very much depend on not only having anonymity before doing something, but after as well.

In particular, and I expect the FP author had this exact situation in mind, when the exercise of speech/publishing relates to the commission of a crime. But in all but a few situations (defamation or lying to a grand jury come to mind), the crime and the speech exist as entirely separate concepts, with the latter protected.

Even when the speech does break the law directly (defamation), you need to consider how much credibility an anonymous source really has. If I say "The PS3 sucks", I may have defamed Sony, but no one will care. If US VP of marketing for SCEA says the same thing, it would make headlines (at least in the geek news community).

If I cheat on my taxes, that breaks the law. If I brag about it anonymously - The bragging doesn't break the law, and I have every right to maintain my anonymity in the bragging. If the IRS catches me for the crime itself, no foul; If they hunt me down like a dog and then find out I just bragged but have filed accurately, they have wasted time and money and potentially injured me financially or reputation-wise in the process, despite no actual crime occuring.



Anonymity has a dark side, but without an absolute right to it, we may as well let the government install "The Eye" in our living rooms right now.

Never has been absolute (2, Insightful)

Excelcia (906188) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300260)

There never, ever, has been an absolute right to anonymity. The day people have that right, is the day that society will cease to exist.

Society exists because of law and peer pressure to conform to its rules. Where anonimity is guaranteed, peer pressure cannot exist, and law cannot be enforced.

There are restrictions on what government can do to invade your privacy, but privacy and anonimity are two different things. In fulfilling its duties to you, government necesarily has a lot of information about you. Because this information is required by the government, there are also restrictions on accessing that information by other parties. Because of these government restrictions, people mistakenly think those restrictions can and should carry over to everyone. There is a mistaken belief that all people are or should be restricted from determining information about another person. This is patently false and rediculous on its face. Who is to say that the blogging groups right to private criticism of a public figure is more important than my right to find out the motives behind that criticism? Who is to say that opening my eyes to observe someone else is a crime? Is there some sort of "I want to remain anonymous" flag that people have? Like the broadcast flag? You go around wearing this flag, and this makes it so no one is alowed to observe or recognize you.

The blogger(s) waded into a public debate. They can do what they want to try to remain anonymous, but the newspaper along with any other member of the public has the right to do what they can to find out who it is.

In short, YOUR RIGHT TO ANONYMITY ENDS WHEN YOU DO ANYTHING THAT SOMEONE ELSE CAN OBSERVE. If you want to stay anonymous, don't do anything.

Re:-1, poor style (1)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300276)

Since when did we have any rights to our identity on the internet? I must have been asleep on the couch next to a empty bottle of Vodka when that law got passed. You are right it was in poor taste, but which was worse - the newspaper or the people who identified him on video and turned him in?

yes but, no but (1)

symes (835608) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300494)

I agree with your sentiments wholeheartedly - however there is another perspective I think worth exploring. While anonymity should be protected I often wonder what it achieves. Thinking back over time I couldn't think of one anonymous person or group who suceeded in bringing about change. There's been the od whitleblower here and there - but all the big rhetoric counted because someone was willing to stand up and put themselves on the line (e.g. Emmeline Pankhurst [wikipedia.org] , Nelson Mandella [wikipedia.org] , etc., etc.).


So, yes, anonymity is a good thing but hiding behind anonymity, imho, undermines the value of what's said.

You keep using that word "absolutely" (3, Funny)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300206)

I do not think it means what you think it means.

So it can "absolutely" be justified, yet it is also "depending on the circumstances".

Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

Why is it obvious/implicit that you don't have the right to remain anonymous, save in a society where you have no rights?

Newspapers' Job is to Expose (4, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300322)

What makes anonymity sacrosanct? Someone does something to be anonymous, their perogative. If someone else does something to expose their identity, that's their perogative, too. If what they do to expose them isn't itself wrong, then they haven't done anything wrong. If they use public info (eg. cameras recording public appearances) and deduction, there's not wrong. The exposed anonymous might not like it, but there's no intrinsic, universal right to anonymity just because they want it. And in fact exposing hidden players in public acts is the primary responsibility of newspapers and other periodical publishers.

I wish there were a lot more outrage about newspapers keeping some people anonymous. Anonymous sources used to spin news, lie to damage coverage and public knowledge. When the source isn't actually anonymous at all, to the reporter (or their editors), but is anonymized by the newspaper, creating more ignorance rather than more knowledge. Especially when that anonymity makes unaccountable some people who are reliably wrong, lying, or just predictably spinning.

Newspapers have a glorious future working to expose trolls in our new mediasphere full of cheap and easy cover. We need more exposure, and more support for it.

What makes anonymity sacrosanct? (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300702)

That is a fair question, and I hope it gets more attention.

My answer is: by remaining anonymous, you can avoid retailiation by powerful entities that may not like what you have to say - whether your articles are true or not. Benjamin Franklin knew this, and sent his letters to the newspaper editor, under a psuednym.

As a more modern example: suppose you knew of a utility company committing some type of a crime. You expose the crime on your blog. The utility company, although guilty, files a lawsuit against you, that would cost you $250K to fight. Your only way out is to stop posting the truth about the company.

Think it can't happen? It already has.

The real question? (0, Troll)

Bizzeh (851225) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300368)

Can arresting and imprisoning someone for blogging their opinions, be justified?

As a local (1)

Bryan Bytehead (9631) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300522)

I find this pretty offensive.

Mainly because what the blogger has been publishing is the truth, and the idiot paper had admitted as as such!

The only reason for trying to get the identification is retribution. Retribution for printing the truth?

No wonder local politics bothers me.

Re:As a local (1)

nothing now (1062628) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300552)

I'm ashamed of living in this hellhole now

Re:As a local (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18300728)

Actually, I'm not a local, so I did research. From an article in the St. Augustine Record:

"The law says that "any combination of two individuals or a person other than an individual" cannot spend more than $500 to expressly advocate the election or defeat of another individual without filing as a political committee."

Essentially, the paper knows that 1) there is a web site attacking a current candidate, and 2) a person going under the name of Lee Padgett also posted a 1/2 page ad against that candidate.

I'm guessing that a half-page ad costs more than $500. It does in my rinky dink hometown newspaper. The newspaper is making an educated guess that more than one person is behind the website. If that's true, then they have to register as a political committee or they're breaking the law.

It sounds to me as if the newspaper is doing good reporting through some crappy means. (Posting a video of a customer? Bad idea. Do the legwork, for God's sake.)

Sadly, no matter how true something is, or how much of an idiot the candidate Rich may be, you don't get to break laws. If you do, expect someone to call you on it. They can say what they want as individuals. They can register and follow the rules and say what they want. They just can't work together and pretend they aren't.

Yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18300612)

Anonymity is killing the internet. It should be banned.

Perhaps some examples might be enlightening? (3, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300778)

I think this discussion can be more enlightened by considering some particular hypothetical cases.

In this case the anonymously-posting group whose member was exposed was critical of a prominent county politician.

Suppose the anonymous poster(s) had been critical of the Chinese government's suppression of Falun Gong or occupation of Tibet.

Suppose the anonymous poster had been Salman Rushdie, at the height of the "Satanic Verses" flap, and the outing included his address.

Suppose the time was shortly before the American Revolution and the posters were people like Samuel Adams, William Molineux, Thomas Paine, Alexander Hamilton, and Paul Revere.

Think about what happened to people like Yuri Orlov, Alexander Litvinenko, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Wang Xiaoning, Nathan Hale, Theo Van Gogh.

I could add names for hours. And, yes, only some of these particular critics of the powerful did so anonymously, so don't bother pointing that out: This list shows what can happen to critics and why they might want to be anonymous.

Maybe this guy won't be sent to a gulag, poisoned by thallium, vanish into the Chinese prison system, or assassinated on the street in broad daylight. But would you be surprised if he is the subject of continual harassment from now on - at least until he moves to another county?

Re:Perhaps some examples might be enlightening? (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300802)

Maybe this guy won't be ... poisoned by thallium ...

Or, as in Litvinenko's case, polonium-210 - though thallium would have done the job in sufficient amounts.

quick litmus test (1)

swschrad (312009) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300790)

if they're in politics or influencing politics, they should be public.

full disclosure forever! -- I am a former practicing journalist.

Girl With A One-Track Mind (2, Interesting)

paj1234 (234750) | more than 7 years ago | (#18300890)

Sounds like what happened to the "Girl With A One Track Mind". It's a (formerly) anonymous blog and book about sex from a female point of view. A newspaper printed extracts from her book, and then went on to reveal her identity without her permission. This is the email that she received from the newspaper:

Aug 5, 2006 11:08 AM

Dear Miss [my name],

We intend to publish a prominent news story in this weekend's paper, revealing your identity as the author of the book, Girl With a One Track Mind.

We have matched up the dates of films you have worked on - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Batman Begins and Lara Croft Tomb Raider - and it is clear that they correlate to your blog. We have obtained your birth certificate, and details about where you went to school and college.

We propose to publish the fact that you are 33 and live in [my address] -London, and that your mother, [her name], is a [her address] -based [her profession]. The article includes extracts from your book and blog, relevant to your career in the film industry. We also have a picture of you, taken outside your flat.

Unfortunately, the picture is not particularly flattering and might undermine the image that has been built up around your persona as Abby Lee. I think it would be helpful to both sides if you agreed to a photo shoot today so that we can publish a more attractive image.

We are proposing to assign you our senior portrait photographer, Francesco Guidicini, and would arrange everything to your convenience, including a car to pick you up. We would expect you to provide your own clothes and make up. As the story will be on a colour page, we would prefer the outfit to be one of colourful eveningwear.

We did put this proposal to you yesterday, but heard nothing back. Clearly this is now a matter of urgency, and I would appreciate you contacting me as soon as possible. To avoid any doubt we will, of course, publish the story as it is if we do not hear from you.

Yours sincerely,
Nicholas Hellen
Acting News Editor
Sunday Times

The author had to leave her job and home. Both she and her parents had photographers camped outside their houses. Even her friends were pestered by journalists. Here is how she felt about it: http://girlwithaonetrackmind.blogspot.com/2006/08/ thoughts.html [blogspot.com]
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