Sunday, August 07, 2011
The War on Web Anonymity
"We take data protection seriously," says Peter Fleischer, Google's Global Privacy Counsel. "We don't know our users by name," he insists. "We just store anonymous identifiers, but no personal data." This is an important distinction for Fleischer, who says that Google's primary goal is to improve the accuracy of targeted advertising. According to Fleischer, the identities of the people behind the numbers are irrelevant. "We don't even want to know the names of users," he says.
In June, Google launched a frontal attack on competitor Facebook and began testing its own social network: Google+. Suddenly Google is asking for precisely what Fleischer so vehemently declared was of no interest to the company in 2008 -- real names.
The company has repeatedly blocked the accounts of users who refuse to provide their real names instead of a pseudonym, because this is a violation of its "community standards." Those rules stipulate the following: "To help fight spam and prevent fake profiles, use the name your friends, family or co-workers usually call you."
Politicians and law enforcement agencies have also declared war on anonymity, a fundamental characteristic of the Internet.
For some, anonymity is among one of the biggest strengths of the Internet, a guarantee of free speech and privacy. Others voice concerns over the "attribution problem" and see it as a key issue in the digital world that must be eliminated.
But in the anarchic world of the Internet is it even possible to implement a large-scale, binding identification requirement? A look at events in South Korea offers some answers to this question.
Ironically, this journey has led to more surveillance in the Asian country, where the Internet euphoria is among the most rampant in the world. In 2008, the 39-year-old Korean actress Choi Jin-sil was bombarded with hateful tirades online. No longer able to bear the attacks, she hung herself.
The nation was shocked. The conservative government reacted with the broader application of a law originally created only for election campaigns. Under the "Real Name Verification Law" anyone who wishes to post comments or videos online must identify themselves with their "resident registration number," a 13-digit unique identifier issued by the government.
No Match For Law Enforcement
It appears that if there is sufficient pressure from investigators, the much-touted principle of anonymity quickly evaporates. The arrests of many presumed members of the hacker groups "Anonymous," "LulzSec" and Germany's "No-Name Crew" prove this.
The "unmasking" of about 20 "Anonymous" activists speaks volumes. Apparently neither masks nor virtual precautions could protect the net anarchists from being apprehended. Ironically, both the real names and, in some cases, the photos of these previously faceless net activists are now publicly available.
In a chat with SPIEGEL, German hacker "Darkhammer," accused of having hacked into and disclosed customs data, boasted that he wasn't afraid of the authorities, and that only stupid people let themselves be caught. He was arrested a few days later.
A report by the respected American Association for the Advancement of Science even concludes: "Anonymous communication should be regarded as a strong human right."
The example of media education shows what a double-edged sword the call for identification on the Internet can be, though. In one respect, Germany's Ministry of Consumer Protection, parents and data privacy advocates are in rare agreement. To protect themselves against fraud, stalking and abuse, young people should never use their real names online, they say.
It isn't easy to explain why this valuable anonymity suddenly becomes a problem after their 18th birthday.
yes they used to be serious about privacy
no they are not any longer
that explains why Google destiny is doomed
most of people on Google will leave them out as "primary"
as soon as the "perception" may be confirmed from even the most insignificant signal
the future is full of no-ip blogs, tunneling and re-mailer feeds
and the IPOs of the ones as face-book who chose to be "intrusive"
"are doomed", just wait for the next dot.com bubble outburst
"too bad", the only winner out of this case may be Microsoft
yes, not a case, the same politicians, the same churches, the same banksters
eager to reinstate a Bolshevist, Nazi or Orwellian
"ministry of information"
to censor the ones that may expose their skims
it is not going to work because
anything invented by humans can be broken by humans
and breaking things is always easier than inventing them
the "disruptive" always precede the socially usable
first came "the bomb" then came, later, the "power plant"
there "is" already a certain degree of "tracking" possible
"except" that the only ones that can use "this level of capacity"
are "compartmentalized structures" at national security highest levels
"it should not be position in the hands of politicians, nor bankers, nor even 'believers'"
because neither have a "need to know" at this level
"a fail at this level is at the highest possible damage for a country or an alliance"
"it may represent the destruction of a country or an alliance"
it is true that anonymity actually would not only "reduce" crime
but would increase the total safety of society, "especially" in cases of stolen identities
the "reality" is that the politician now wants to fix his failure of leadership
that happened when "critical infrastructure", "national security",
"justice records", "medical records" "and" "financial transactions"
were "permitted" to be carried over the internet "and" over sub-standard OTS systems
"this is a policy failure"
weather the politician did so because puppet of the industry or the churches
or because puppet of the organized crime cartel or the banksters cartel
"does not make any difference"
"the failure is in the policy"
the care proposed by the racket is "worse than the disease"
it will produce "more" of "any types of crimes"
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