Anonymity Not the Enemy

    January 11, 2008

In the context of the Gizmodo social hack, Seth writes:

"Anonymity is the enemy, whether it’s online or walking around a trade show with a clicker in your pocket."

I vehemently disagree with Seth’s statement.  Here’s why.

Seth’s viewpoint of "anonymity is the enemy" only works if one is secure: physically, financially and emotionally.  Unfortunately, there are still many, many people in the world where that is not the case.  Here are three:

  • Whisteblowers
  • Political Dissidents
  • Victims of violent or family crime

For any of those groups, anonymity is the means through which they can effect change.

In some cases, for those groups, anonymity is the thing that’s keeping them alive, literally.  On that note, I want to make a shout out to the TOR Project.  The TOR site says:

"Hundreds of thousands of people around the world use Tor for a wide variety of reasons: journalists and bloggers, human rights workers, law enforcement officers, soldiers, corporations, citizens of repressive regimes, and just ordinary citizens. See the Who Uses Tor? page for examples of typical Tor users. See the overview page for a more detailed explanation of what Tor does, why this diversity of users is important, and how Tor works."

What Gizmodo did was a social hack, not unlike a flashmob or Santarchy

It was not a crime, as Seth called it. 

If someone turning off a TV is a crime to get up in arms about where you live, consider yourself very, very fortunate.