For Those Who Don’t Want To Believe

Excellent article from Jon Evans at TechCrunch about a month ago, relevant to the Nym Wars.

Cheap and/or ubiquitous cameras and facial recognition make surveillance ever more omnipresent; the dangers and uncertainties of other new technologies, like hobbyist UAVs, lead to calls for even greater scrutiny; and eventually online anonymity/pseudonymity will be the only kind there is. That isn’t entirely a bad thing. It’s because of crowdsourced surveillance that New York police lieutenant Anthony Bologna faces two investigations after apparently gratuitously pepper-spraying protestors. But it means the ability to remain pseudonymous online will only become more and more important in the years to come.

Do the services that connect people online seem to realize this? Sadly, the answer mostly ranges between “No” and “Hell, no.” Twitter is the only major social network that doesn’t have a real-names policy, and the only one with a history of going to bat for its users’ privacy. But while the online journalists in Mexico who dare to report on its brutal drug wars are beheaded after their real identities are connected to their online bylines, while Syrians are detained and interrogated because of their Facebook accounts, Vic Gundotra has idiotically compared Google Plus’s real-name policy to “wearing a shirt to a restaurant,” and both Eric Schmidt and Mark Zuckerberg’s sister Randi have called for real identities to be attached to all online activity.

4 thoughts on “For Those Who Don’t Want To Believe

  1. There are times when it is useful to have an online identity that is verified and vetted, similar to a website which has a certificate. In the US we can use our government or military ID cards to authenticate to websites for access, and to digitally sign (and encrypt) email to the government or to each other. (The Republic of Estonia has an even better digital identity infrastructure that does more than the US governments PKI.)

    But I don’t want that all the time. Friends keep sending me invites to Google+ and Facebook, and pestering me to get a smart phone. In fact most of the time I would rather be anonymized. It’s not that I’m doing anything wrong. I don’t even troll comments (mostly don’t comment at all). But it’s just not necessary to be publicly recognized all the time.

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