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Monday, September 07, 2009


Anonymity: Social responsibility, civility...or fear?

An article in the New York Times, China Web Sites Seeking Users’ Names, reveals a new intrusion by Chinese authorities. This argument against anonymity has been made here in the United States as well. Recently Google revealed the name of a formerly anonymous blogger who had dared to call former model, Liskula Cohen, a skanky ho. The outed blogger, Rosemary Port, has threatended to file a $15 million lawsuit against Google. While most attorneys think she stands little chance of winning, most of the coverage I read appeared largely unsympathetic to Port's privacy claims. But back to China...

... in early August, without notification of a change, news portals like
Sina, Netease, Sohu, and scores of other sites began asking unregistered users
to sign in under their real names and identification numbers, said top editors
at two of the major portals affected. A Sina staff member also confirmed the
change.

The editors said the sites were putting into effect a
confidential directive issued in late July by the State Council Information
Office, one of the main government bodies responsible for supervising the
Internet in China.

The new step is not foolproof, the editors
acknowledged. It was possible for a reporter to register successfully on several
major sites under falsified names and ID and cellphone numbers.


Does government regulation represent an incursion on free speech and individual
privacy, or are we truly unable to manage this stuff ourselves

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