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UK Government Report Recommends Ending Online Anonymity 282

Posted by timothy
from the but-you-have-a-right-to-be-forgotten dept.
An anonymous reader writes with a bit of pith from TechDirt: Every so often, people who don't really understand the importance of anonymity or how it enables free speech (especially among marginalized people), think they have a brilliant idea: "just end real anonymity online." They don't seem to understand just how shortsighted such an idea is. It's one that stems from the privilege of being in power. And who knows that particular privilege better than members of the House of Lords in the UK — a group that is more or less defined by excess privilege? The Communications Committee of the House of Lords has now issued a report concerning "social media and criminal offenses" in which they basically recommend scrapping anonymity online.
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UK Government Report Recommends Ending Online Anonymity

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 31, 2014 @02:30PM (#47576533)

    Maybe they forgot that the Internet has no borders?

    • Or they didn't, and they're going for a power grab. I wonder which one it is...
    • by Anonymous Coward

      That is the problem. If they want to end anonymity then they need to provide legal repercussions for ANYONE who would abuse the data being gathered on people. Even if its over a border and especially if it is our CORPORATE MASTERS. This would require something that governments the world over have proven themselves incapable of: saying no to billions or trillions of dollars in bribe/lobby/campaign contributions.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        If they want to end anonymity, then they need to stop lying and just call themselves a police state, and make everyone forget about things such as "fundamental liberties."

      • by Smauler (915644)

        No, the problem is that they cannot end anonymity. It's impossible.

        Using TOR and encryption is a first, easy step to stay relatively anonymous. Internet cafes and wardriving is the next step, to completely eliminate the possibility of finding the source of an anonymous message.

        • by mikael (484)

          Their idea would be that you would use biometrics, SIM cards or ID cards to get access to any internet terminal (smartphone, desktop PC, laptop, netbook or tablet). Anything with a SIM card would have a registered user.

          That has been the plan all along. They absolutely hated desktop PC's and laptops because home owners could always "uninstall" whatever spyware they tried putting on the systems. Netbooks, smartphones and tablets are better because they are single chip systems and it's impossible to modify com

    • The UK just passed a law that says any company whose website has UK users i.e. all of them has to comply with UK surveillance requests. It's as bad as the USA when it comes to those kinds of extra territorial laws now.

      Politicians have generally not been able to handle the notion of borderless transactions and information flows. This "you have to comply with our laws if your service is accessible to our citizens" trick is their solution. You say, how do they enforce it, well, through exploiting the internati

    • by RDW (41497) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @06:00PM (#47578117)

      Maybe they forgot that the Internet has no borders?

      No, they remembered:

      http://www.publications.parlia... [parliament.uk]

      'The only way as we see it to resolve questions of jurisdiction and access to communications data would be by international treaty.'

      Coming soon to a legislature near you!

    • by Mister Liberty (769145) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @06:42PM (#47578355)

      Anonymous report recommends: end UK Government online.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 31, 2014 @02:34PM (#47576563)

    All Brits officially change there name to anonymous coward. Problem solved.

  • by cowwoc2001 (976892) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @02:42PM (#47576621)

    You disregard all the harm that anonymity causes online, from bullying, to hate speech, to terrorism.

    I'm not saying the argument for Freedom of Expression is irrelevant, but the other perspective has legitimate concerns as well.

    Pro-anonymity advocates have been saying for years that Freedom of Expression will fix all ills but we've seen a substantial rise of bullying, hate speech and terrorism-advocacy in the past decade. Saying that people will find the truth so long as it's out there, somewhere, does not seem to be working. Great in theory but doesn't work in practice.

    We need to find a middle ground that will help curtain online abuse with minimal impact on Freedom of Speech, but the statue quo is not sustainable.

    • by Stormy Dragon (800799) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @02:45PM (#47576645) Homepage

      So you think making it possible for bullies to determine the RL identities of their victims is going the REDUCE online abuse?

      • by vux984 (928602)

        I am NOT at all even slightly for eliminating online anon; but playing the devil's advocate:

        So you think making it possible for bullies to determine the RL identities of their victims is going the REDUCE online abuse?

        No, but determining the RL identities of the bullies likely would reduce bullying, as they could be held socially and legally accountable for what they are doing.

        • by Kaenneth (82978)

          To paraphrase a quote on a different subject: "If you outlaw online anonymity, only outlaws will be anonymous online."

          • by vux984 (928602)

            To paraphrase a quote on a different subject: "If you outlaw online anonymity, only outlaws will be anonymous online."

            Actually the quote only really works with guns.

            With guns, "only outlaws have guns" is a "problem" because guns confer confer considerable power over others to the outlaws.

            With anything else, the response "So what?"

            For example, if you outlaw wearing red, only outlaws will wear red. So what. It makes it easy for the police to round them up and toss them in jail. Good riddance to stupid outlaws

        • by JohnFen (1641097) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @03:25PM (#47576975)

          determining the RL identities of the bullies likely would reduce bullying, as they could be held socially and legally accountable for what they are doing.

          I don't see any reason to think this is true. The RL identities of most bullies are already known to those being bullied, yet the bullying persists.

          • by vux984 (928602)

            The RL identities of most bullies are already known to those being bullied, yet the bullying persists.

            I dunno, RL bullying tends to stay just within the law and/or incidents are very difficult to prove boiling down to he-said she-said. I ran into bullying at school at few times over the years -- and ran into first hand how hard it was to effectively combat -- they're criminals and thugs but evidence is nearly impossible, and even if the police or school want to help its really hard to get evidence or pursue

          • >I don't see any reason to think this is true. The RL identities of most bullies are already known to those being bullied, yet the bullying persists.

            Yep, and some of the most abusive right-wing lunatics on twitter post under their real names, because in the wingnut subculture being horrible, and bullying anyone who's smarter than the Fox News manufactured-reality crowd, is something to be proud of. When a whole subculture sucks, being terrible holds no social repercussions.
          • The RL identities of most bullies are already known to those being bullied, yet the bullying persists.

            Suspecting you know who is doing something and being able to prove it to a sufficient standard to secure some action against them are two very different things.

            Some children growing up today face an entirely different scale of abuse from their peers to what anyone of my generation had to put up with, and the major difference is how much of that abuse can now be done widely and yet anonymously because of modern technologies.

            I find my views on this issue unsettled, because on the one hand true anonymity effec

          • determining the RL identities of the bullies likely would reduce bullying, as they could be held socially and legally accountable for what they are doing.

            I don't see any reason to think this is true. The RL identities of most bullies are already known to those being bullied, yet the bullying persists.

            But is it known to the entire world what the bullies are doing and their real names? (I think it's dangerous for other reasons to [partially!] de-anonimize the internet.)

    • by ruir (2709173) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @02:45PM (#47576651) Homepage
      Think of the children?? People will always find ways to be anonymous if they want, even if they have to tunnel connections to outside UK. The Internet is a global village, and the cat is out of the bag. Furthermore, terrorists will always be terrorists, and it is a lame excuse. It is like forbiding guns, and then the only ones having guns are the criminals. It does not work at all. As for dealing with hate speach, grow a pair, and ignore what you dont want to see/read.
      • Think of the children?? People will always find ways to be anonymous if they want, even if they have to tunnel connections to outside UK. The Internet is a global village, and the cat is out of the bag. Furthermore, terrorists will always be terrorists, and it is a lame excuse. It is like forbiding guns, and then the only ones having guns are the criminals. It does not work at all. As for dealing with hate speach, grow a pair, and ignore what you dont want to see/read.

        Words have an impact.

        In the case of bullying it has led to multiple deaths. In the case of terrorist advocacy, it has led to repeated violent/racist protests that has led to countless people getting hurt and in some cases dying. No one should have the right to advocate violence against all members of an ethnic group. Just look at what's happening in France.

        I don't care about people's feelings getting hurt. I care about people getting physically hurt. These are legitimate concerns for which you have offered

        • I propose we forbid (attack) violence. Then no-one will be hurt physically, and we can still have anonymous free speech.

          • I propose we forbid (attack) violence. Then no-one will be hurt physically, and we can still have anonymous free speech.

            In practice, what ends up happening is that police is caught off guard and arrests are made after people have already died. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T... [wikipedia.org]

        • by Stargoat (658863)

          Words have an impact.

          In the case of bullying it has led to multiple deaths. In the case of terrorist advocacy, it has led to repeated violent/racist protests that has led to countless people getting hurt and in some cases dying. No one should have the right to advocate violence against all members of an ethnic group. Just look at what's happening in France.

          What you are proposing abridges freedom of speech. If a person decides to jump off a bridge because someone called them fat, too bad. We should have learned as a society that restrictions on actions do not make us safer unless those particular necessarily lead directly to harm of others. Advocating violence against an ethnic group, while reprehensible, should be protected speech. Shouting "Fire" in a crowded theater necessarily leads directly to the harm of others, so restrictions are acceptable.

          What in

          • Words have an impact.

            In the case of bullying it has led to multiple deaths. In the case of terrorist advocacy, it has led to repeated violent/racist protests that has led to countless people getting hurt and in some cases dying. No one should have the right to advocate violence against all members of an ethnic group. Just look at what's happening in France.

            What you are proposing abridges freedom of speech. If a person decides to jump off a bridge because someone called them fat, too bad. We should have learned as a society that restrictions on actions do not make us safer unless those particular necessarily lead directly to harm of others. Advocating violence against an ethnic group, while reprehensible, should be protected speech. Shouting "Fire" in a crowded theater necessarily leads directly to the harm of others, so restrictions are acceptable.

            What invariably ends up happening is government takes too much control. Just look at what's happening in England (to Tottenham's Yid Army or the ridiculously racist hit job the FA did on Luis Suarez for using the perfectly acceptable by South American standards word negrito). If you give government power, they will abuse it. Every time. The question should be: is the abuse worth it? In this case, definitely not.

            When protesters yell "Kill the Jews" and proceed to attack a nearby synagogue full of people I think we've reach the point where it's worse than yelling "Fire" in a crowded theater.

          • Shouting "Fire" in a crowded theater necessarily leads directly to the harm of others

            Nope. Wrong. Panicking and trampling over people does that, but it's not the speaker who directly made them do that.

        • by Smauler (915644)

          Words have an impact.

          In the case of bullying it has led to multiple deaths. In the case of terrorist advocacy, it has led to repeated violent/racist protests that has led to countless people getting hurt and in some cases dying. No one should have the right to advocate violence against all members of an ethnic group. Just look at what's happening in France.

          The thing is that not allowing people to speak their mind leads to everyone living in fear. Bullying will happen to some extent, and I think real li

    • by jbburks (853501) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @02:47PM (#47576667)
      Hate speech is just that. Speech. It should never be prohibited.

      Universities and others that make hate speech a crime are violating the principle of free speech.

      • Hate speech is just that. Speech. It should never be prohibited.

        Universities and others that make hate speech a crime are violating the principle of free speech.

        The people on the receiving end of said hate speech would disagree, especially when it results in physical attacks on them as has been the case in France recently.

        • by lgw (121541) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @05:26PM (#47577917) Journal

          For speech to result in physical attacks - a strong causal connection - that's no longer hate speech, that's "incitement to riot". We've had no problem keeping "hate speech" legal but "incitement to riot" illegal in America for centuries now.

          Speech should always be protected as speech. But telling your bodyguard to shoot someone is not illegal because of the words you use, but instead because of the immediate desired outcome of that speech. Running on a platform of killing all the Jews is political speech, and should be protected (and for goodness sake, please oh please let the candidate actually say that sort of thing on camera, not keep it as a secret agenda, so that democracy can happen properly there). Saying "hey, lets go attack that guy right there, right now!" has never been protected speech.

          "On a computer" changes nothing.

          • by cowwoc2001 (976892) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @11:51PM (#47579397)

            For speech to result in physical attacks - a strong causal connection - that's no longer hate speech, that's "incitement to riot". We've had no problem keeping "hate speech" legal but "incitement to riot" illegal in America for centuries now.

            Speech should always be protected as speech. But telling your bodyguard to shoot someone is not illegal because of the words you use, but instead because of the immediate desired outcome of that speech. Running on a platform of killing all the Jews is political speech, and should be protected (and for goodness sake, please oh please let the candidate actually say that sort of thing on camera, not keep it as a secret agenda, so that democracy can happen properly there). Saying "hey, lets go attack that guy right there, right now!" has never been protected speech.

            "On a computer" changes nothing.

            No one is that dumb. You will be hard pressed to find direct/immediate causality between repeated demonization against ethnic groups and the subsequent violence protests that ensue. But there is also no denying that when people post videos that incite hate against ethnic groups, coupled with a caption that says "Fucking Jews!" it tends to have a real effect. I just saw a video spread on Facebook that claimed to show Israeli soldiers burying Palestinian children alive with exactly that caption. Now, the soldiers in question were not Israeli (the Jordanian flag on the uniform kind of gave that away) but most of the viewers did not catch on. The video received over 1,500 shares with 1,200 comments to the effect of "Jewish bloodsuckers, we should end them". So sure, I can't count how many of the people who viewed this video went on to commit violence against Jews. But I can guess many of them were negatively affected and a sizable portion of them went out to protest, and a portion of them turned to violence.

            It's no coincidence that Hitler employed a strong propaganda campaign. If this kind of crap didn't work, he wouldn't have bothered. We need to admit that words, photos and videos make a difference and do lead to increased racism and eventually physical violence. We need to find a way to balance these concerns with Freedom of Speech.

        • The people on the receiving end of said hate speech would disagree

          So you claim to speak for all people who are 'victims' of hate speech?

          Furthermore, that's nothing more than an ad hominem attack; a fallacy. "You're not a victim of hate speech, so all of your arguments are invalid." Someone's arguments stand on their own merit, and whether or not they've had hate speech directed at them has nothing to do with whether their arguments are valid.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Space cowboy (13680)

        This is a very US-typical way of thinking.

        In the UK, it's more of a "where is the harm" approach. If there is more perceived harm in the exercise of said speech than in allowing it, it won't be allowed. This is more difficult to administer (it means someone, usually a judge) has to make a decision about this rather than it just being black and white. It does make life more pleasant for more people.

        Having lived in the UK and the US for over a decade each, I have some perspective on this, and personally I thi

        • Having lived in the UK and the US for over a decade each, I have some perspective on this, and personally I think it's worth it

          Because you're anti-free speech. I know not all people in the UK despise freedom, just like I know not all people in the US despise freedom; sadly, we may be a minority.

          [*] It's not a real absolute in the USA, you can't shout "Fire!" in a crowded theatre in the US either

          Yes, you can. Even under our stupid rules (most of which violate the constitution), you can at least shout "Fire!" if there is a fire. If you falsely shout it and it causes a panic, then you can be punished. What you said was simply wrong.

    • by scottme (584888)

      I'm not sure I would pay much if any attention to an anonymous troll's attempts to bully, denigrate or terrorise me. If you have something to say, do so from an identifiable account else expect to be ignored.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        You aren't a teen.

        • by scottme (584888)

          Not for a long time - but I was a teen once, and I know how important others' opinions are to a person at that age. Learning which opinions to value and which to discount is an essential life skill, and acquiring it usually leaves a few scars. Believe me, the desire to insulate the poor darlings from the rough and tumble that develops character isn't going to help them in the long run.

          • and I know how important others' opinions are to a person at that age.

            Well, I don't. Not everyone was oversensitive as a teen.

          • by Artifakt (700173)

            I see where you are coming from, and even admire it in a way, but I feel compelled to point out another side of the issue (one other side, there are probably 20 more). Online bullys don't usually just make speech involving insults and putdowns. There's a high degree of these being accompanied by false accusations that can easily count as libel, and by misinformation which is often damaging in other ways. (In fact, for cases where bullying goes on for over 3 months, the chance of one or more of these other

    • by ruir (2709173)
      Anyway, commenting again, either you are a liar, and enjoy trolling, your are an agent provocateur, or are a naive sheep. This is not about bullying, hate speech or terrorism, this is about censorship and control of the dissemination of the information. The online world is undermining the lies they are selling you in the stupid box and in the newspapers.
    • by invid (163714)
      Unfortunately, for most people's everyday online activities, they can get traced back by a sufficiently informed an connected agency and are not truly anonymous anyway. I see a future where anonymity and privacy are going to fade away, and most people will just shrug and say 'meh'. We give away privacy for convenience ever time we use a credit card. We do it every time we use a smart phone. Currently, it only exists for those who actively try to be anonymous.
    • There's also the ability for anonymity to be used to avoid bullying, etc online. The obvious example is speaking out against a tyrannical regime. If I post a political rant against a powerful public figure (be he the head of a country or some local mayor who uses the sheriff as his own personal guard dog) under the name "Jason Levine", it might be easy to track me down. If I post it as "Political WatchDog 1776" or some other pseudonym, it becomes harder.

      To give a more concrete example, and one that affec

      • I've witnessed similar behavior. One particular individual was of the hyper-partisan political nature - I will not speak details, but suffice to say he was one of those who strongly identified with left/right, and considered those of the opposite faction to be treasonous scum, and it his personal patriotic duty to purge the world of them. He got increasingly carried away with this in the usual agresssive internet flame wars, which culminated in him registering a domain name using the alias of one of his opp

    • by JohnFen (1641097)

      You disregard all the harm that anonymity causes online, from bullying, to hate speech, to terrorism.

      I haven't actually seen any evidence that anonymity causes any of those things. I have seen evidence that the lack of anonymity doesn't reduce those things. So yes, I disregard it until there is a good reason not to.

      We need to find a middle ground that will help curtain online abuse with minimal impact on Freedom of Speech, but the statue quo is not sustainable.

      Well, I don't agree that there is some kind of crisis that needs to be addressed immediately (let alone that we need to give up any rights for), but ignoring that: please explain how removing anonymity will curtail any of the things you bring up. Since it hasn't worked in parts of the internet w

    • You disregard all the harm that anonymity causes online, from bullying, to hate speech, to terrorism.

      No we didn't. Free speech easily trumps all of those concerns. Period.

      It's better to live terrified in chaos, than safely wrapped in golden chains.

    • The solution to many of these problems consists of having enough self-confidence to shrug off insults.

      • The solution to many of these problems consists of having enough self-confidence to shrug off insults.

        As I mentioned earlier, I'm not complaining about words that hurt one's fillings. I'm complaining about words that lead to physically violence/death. When protesters yell "Kill the Jews" and proceed to attack a nearby synagogue full of people I think we've reach a point things have gone too far.

        • by Smauler (915644)

          When people attack synagogues.... that's against the law, already. When people actually encourage people to kill Jews, that's already against the law. I'm not sure how them being anonymous or not online would affect the attack on the synagogue.

          Very, very few people are actually anonymous online now. It's pretty easy to track most people down.

    • You disregard all the harm that anonymity causes online, from bullying, to hate speech, to terrorism.

      No, I don't. Anything could be abused, but it's 100% anti-freedom to say it should be banned merely because of that. These are not legitimate concerns. Freedom is more important than safety.

      Pro-anonymity advocates have been saying for years that Freedom of Expression will fix all ills

      No, they haven't.

      but the statue quo is not sustainable.

      It is and has been sustainable. There is no "middle ground" which doesn't violate people's privacy and speech rights, which makes any such "middle ground" 100% unacceptable. Why not move to North Korea?

  • by hsthompson69 (1674722) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @02:44PM (#47576639)

    If government wants to have peeps into our private lives, I say they should offer themselves up first. Have every government employee's financial records, emails, purchases, and other records completely public. Install GPS trackers on them so we can all track their movement. Put cameras in their homes, cars, and offices so that we can watch them 24/7.

    If they want the panopticon, let them go first.

    • No. Because that suggests we are in part for it and only negotiating conditions.

      You know they would be against this, and we are not in a position to negotiate. So stop the bluster until you have something to contribute.

  • by Joe Gillian (3683399) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @02:49PM (#47576677)

    If you read the proposal by the House of Lords, it's completely infeasible. What they want is for websites to have verified identity information on hand, but then allow people to post anonymously or using a pseudonym. This is infeasible for several reasons, mostly that to truly verify someone's identity, you need a government-issued ID number. I'm not British, but in the US, that would be the Social Security Number. Now, let me tell you what happens when a government forces SSN identification for things that should not need an SSN.

    Some time ago, there was an insanely popular MMORPG in South Korea known as Lineage 2. The administrators behind Lineage 2 (I believe the game was owned by Microsoft but I can't say for sure) required that anyone registering a Lineage 2 account (which required a monthly fee) give them their Korean Social Security Number (KSSN) which works exactly like the US SSN does. I don't recall whether this was because the Korean government was scared of anonymity and demanded it, or because the game's owners wanted it for verification and were not required to get KSSNs by the government, but in any case, a KSSN was required to play the game.

    A few years later, Lineage 2 got hacked. The database of KSSNs they had was leaked, meaning that the identities of thousands of people were freely available on the internet. After the Korean government learned of the Lineage 2 hack, they actually tightened their restrictions - all MMORPGs operating in Korea were now required to ask for a KSSN upon account registration, even for F2P games.

    The result is that any time an MMORPG gets hacked in Korea, KSSNs get dumped. It also led to things like mass identity theft - players from outside Korea who wanted to play the Korean version of various MMOs (the ones based in Korea are usually regularly updated in Korean but not in the International versions) would have to find a leaked KSSN and use it.

    Requiring an identity verification for anything but the most major financial transactions (insurance, banks, employment) should never happen. A credit card verification is different - you can verify a credit or debit card without needing an SSN - and should be enough for pretty much everywhere.

    • by ruir (2709173)
      Maybe the "hacking" is just a lame cover up for someone selling or abusing that information.
    • by ledow (319597) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @02:59PM (#47576755) Homepage

      Worse,

      In the UK there is no compulsory identification. My brother does not have a single identification document. No driving license, no passport, no "ID card" (we've never really issued them since WW2 except for a brief, abandoned, experiment*). He has a normal life.

      So, what are you going to use for ID? National Insurance Number? It's meaningless and doesn't correspond to much. It's not even CLOSE to the American SSN, and you can freely give it away without fear.

      Driving license number? Some people don't drive.
      Passport number? Some people don't have a passport at all, and may never have had one.

      Then, you're into pseudo-ID that isn't definitive and isn't legally required.

      The UK is one of the few countries in the world where it's perfectly legal to NOT CARRY ANY ID WHATSOEVER. If you're ever challenged by police, they can ask you to prove who you are but that "proof", because of the "no ID card" thing, can be as low as someone recognising you. Precisely because there is no single definitive means of identification.

      So, in that atmosphere, how any single website would ever be able to "authenticate" your ID, I have no idea. Banks generally require two forms of ID to open a bank account, which can include things like bills addressed to you, and a wage slip. Neither are actually proof of ID, but you can get a bank account with them.

      My brother ran into no more trouble than usual getting a bank account. He has no definitive form of ID in existence. How does that translate to a non-anonymous Internet?

      *We had a voluntary ID card scheme a couple of years ago. It was completely abandoned and all the people that paid for the cards wasted their money and never got a refund. The cards are useless and now not accepted as proof of ID, despite a hugely complicated sign-up process. I can just imagine the response to "another" ID card fiasco....

      • by Lost Race (681080)

        So, what are you going to use for ID?

        So, in that atmosphere, how any single website would ever be able to "authenticate" your ID, I have no idea.

        How about tamper-resistant cryptographic biometric devices? Use your government-issued fingerprint reader to log into Big Brother's system, then each server is required to make sure you have a valid current login certificate from BB before providing any services. Complete records must be kept indefinitely and will be audited against upstream connection logs.

        Nobody

        • by slew (2918)

          Complete records must be kept indefinitely and will be audited against upstream connection logs.

          So much for the right to be forgotten...

      • by rkww (675767)

        He has no definitive form of ID in existence

        So as a purely hypothetical question, if he wanted to obtain a passport, how would he go about it ?

    • Not unfeasible at all, unless they need actual identites. For example here in Norway all phone numbers must have an owner identified with our version of an SSN, even unlisted and prepaid numbers. So an easy way to have an "id" is to send a one time code to the cell during registration. That account is now linked to my phone number which links to my id. If they're hacked, all they have is phone numbers. Many discussion boards already do that to reduce spam and make bans more effective

      • For example here in Norway all phone numbers must have an owner identified with our version of an SSN, even unlisted and prepaid numbers.

        What a sad state of affairs.

  • by Alomex (148003) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @02:49PM (#47576681) Homepage

    It greases up communication. If I had to attach my name permanently to this comment, at best I would have to spend 15 minutes fully thinking out every implication of it, at worst I would likely not make it at all.

    However using either AC or a pseudonym I can post my initial thoughts and let someone else support/refute some of the points using their own personal experience and knowledge.

    One arrives to the truth much faster by collaborative debate than by solitary thinking or not posting at all.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 31, 2014 @02:53PM (#47576711)

    Every so often, people who don't really understand the importance of anonymity or how it enables free speech (especially among marginalized people), think they have a brilliant idea: "just end real anonymity online."

    I disagree. These people understand perfectly well the importance of anonymity. Which is precisely why they want it banned.

  • by niftymitch (1625721) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @02:56PM (#47576741)

    At a local pizza shop. I placed my order
    and paid cash. She asked:

    Q: May I have your name sir?

    A: Yes

    After a while I hear on the speaker.

    "Yes, your pizza is ready".

    • by taustin (171655)

      "My name is Mr. Cash Purchase. I do not have a fixed address. I do not have a telephone."

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They don't seem to understand just how shortsighted such an idea is.

    It's not short sighted AT ALL. It may not be conducive to your view of how things and/or the internet should work but it isn't a short sighted suggestion in any way, shape, or form. It works, 100%, towards their true goals and aspirations - to hold people accountable for what they say, to better track who is saying what, and to shut people up. They may attempt to sell it as beneficial for something else to make it more favourable to the public, but that's their goal and it's a long term goal which ending an

    • by rkww (675767)
      You have to remember that as members of the House of Lords they are held accountable for everything they say.
  • Real report link (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 31, 2014 @03:10PM (#47576833)

    After many clicks, I came finally to the real report and the section on Anonymity.

    http://www.publications.parlia... [parliament.uk]

    and the bold part is here,

    From our perspective in the United Kingdom, if the behaviour which is currently criminal is to remain criminal and also capable of prosecution, we consider that it would be proportionate to require the operators of websites first to establish the identity of people opening accounts but that it is also proportionate to allow people thereafter to use websites using pseudonyms or anonymously. There is little point in criminalising certain behaviour and at the same time legitimately making that same behaviour impossible to detect. We recognise that this is a difficult question, especially as it relates to jurisdiction and enforcement.

    So it seems they are not complete idiots, just trying to make things easier for investigative purposes. How they want people to identify themselves, well, that's another story.

    Your truly,
    A.C.

    CAPTCHA: thanks

  • The UK Government recommends scrapping anonymous users.
    As an anonymous user I recommend scrapping the UK Government.

  • Hi, I'd like to create an account. Oh, you need my "real" name and address? Sure:
    George W Bush
    Walker's Point
    Kennebunkport, ME 04046

    Oh yes, please do sign me up for advertisements from your partners! And I love newsletters and can't get enough insurance offers.
  • There has never been true anonymity on the internet. Anonymity is an illusion. There have always been ways to identify people over the internet.

    • There has never been true anonymity on the internet. Anonymity is an illusion. There have always been ways to identify people over the internet.

      Yes but as it currently stands, you don't have to worry about your potential employer being put off by something you said 20 years ago under a pseudonym, that they happen to disagree with. Not for most employers, in any case.

  • by Ken_g6 (775014) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @03:37PM (#47577115) Homepage

    Since at least The Federalist Papers. [wikipedia.org] I'm glad they didn't succeed then, and I hope they don't succeed now.

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @03:52PM (#47577271)
    One of the techniques the government has for allowing the discussion of sensitive issues, without starting a witch hunt is called The Chatham House Rule

    Meeting held under this rule do not allow the the disclosure of who said what. The "what" can be reported, but no-one is permitted to say who said it. That permits people to express views, or ask "what if" questions (and get considered, informed answers) without having to always play to the (media) audience and make guarded, ambiguous and watered-down statements.

    Since the government recognises the value of these sorts of meetings (as well as the established protocol of "off the record" briefings, which cannot be quoted) it's ludicrous that they would think that removing anonymity would be a good idea. This can only be one of those "silly season" media reports, usually made up by journalists who are bored as politicians are away during the summer months.

  • by brit74 (831798) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @04:05PM (#47577365)
    How the heck did this turn into a discussion of "privilege"? Yeash. Everything is not about "privilege" and the good guys vs the bad guys isn't defined by who has more "privilege". The idea of ending anonymity online is important for everyone, not just the "less privileged". In most cases, when a website has a comments section which is based on Facebook usernames, I just don't comment at all. I really don't need anyone mining my comments 5 or 10 years from now, so I just flat-out refuse to participate on those discussions, for fear that my comments will be taken out of context or misunderstood and then used against me. That creates a chilling effect for free speech *for everyone*.
  • But as far as the internet is concerned, I have ten names and none of them are my real one.

  • The techdirt article quotes this delicious excerpt:

    From our perspective in the United Kingdom, if the behaviour which is currently criminal is to remain criminal and also capable of prosecution, we consider that it would be proportionate to require the operators of websites first to establish the identity of people opening accounts but that it is also proportionate to allow people thereafter to use websites using pseudonyms or anonymously. There is little point in criminalising certain behaviour and at the

  • that they are doing it because every single one of them is a spy for a child molestation criminal conspiracy ring. I have it on good authority that each and every single member of the house of commons is on the ring's pay. And they are trying to prevent the anonymous exposures such as this one.

New crypt. See /usr/news/crypt.

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