kamagra 60mg

Reasonable Expectation Legal Blog Focusing On Privacy and Data Security Issues

21Jun/110

Upending Anonymity, These Days the Web Unmasks Everyone

Interesting Article on the New York Times discussing the loss of anonymity over the internet.  Its a fascinating read:


Upending Anonymity, These Days the Web Unmasks Everyone

By 

Not too long ago, theorists fretted that the Internet was a place where anonymity thrived.

Now, it seems, it is the place where anonymity dies.

A commuter in the New York area who verbally tangled with a conductor last Tuesday — and defended herself by asking “Do you know what schools I’ve been to and how well-educated I am?” — was publicly identified after a fellow rider posted a cellphone video of the encounter on YouTube. The woman, who had gone to N.Y.U., was ridiculed by a cadre of bloggers, one of whom termed it the latest episode of “Name and Shame on the Web.”

Women who were online pen pals of former Representative Anthony D. Weiner similarly learned how quickly Internet users can sniff out all the details of a person’s online life. So did the men who set fire to cars and looted stores in the wake of Vancouver’s Stanley Cup defeat last week when they were identified, tagged by acquaintances online.

The collective intelligence of the Internet’s two billion users, and the digital fingerprints that so many users leave on Web sites, combine to make it more and more likely that every embarrassing video, every intimate photo, and every indelicate e-mail is attributed to its source, whether that source wants it to be or not. This intelligence makes the public sphere more public than ever before and sometimes forces personal lives into public view.

To some, this could conjure up comparisons to the agents of repressive governments in the Middle East who monitor online protests and exact retribution offline. But the positive effects can be numerous: criminality can be ferreted out, falsehoods can be disproved and individuals can become Internet icons.

When a freelance photographer, Rich Lam, digested his pictures of the riots in Vancouver, he spotted several shots of a man and a woman, surrounded by police officers in riot gear, in the middle of a like-nobody’s-watching kiss. When the photos were published, a worldwide dragnet of sorts ensued to identify the “kissing couple.” Within a day, the couple’s relatives had tipped off news Web sites to their identities, and there they were, Monday,on the “Today” show: Scott Jones and Alex Thomas, the latest proof that thanks to the Internet, every day could be a day that will be remembered around the world.

“It’s kind of amazing that there was someone there to take a photo,” Ms. Thomas said on “Today.”

The “kissing couple” will most likely enjoy just a tweet’s worth of fame, but it is noteworthy that they were tracked down at all.

This erosion of anonymity is a product of pervasive social media services, cheap cellphone cameras, free photo and video Web hosts, and perhaps most important of all, a change in people’s views about what ought to be public and what ought to be private. Experts say that Web sites like Facebook, which require real identities and encourage the sharing of photographs and videos, have hastened this change.

“Humans want nothing more than to connect, and the companies that are connecting us electronically want to know who’s saying what, where,” said Susan Crawford, a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. “As a result, we’re more known than ever before.”

This growing “publicness,” as it is sometimes called, comes with significant consequences for commerce, for political speech and for ordinary people’s right to privacy. There are efforts by governments and corporations toset up online identity systems. Technology will play an even greater role in the identification of once-anonymous individuals: Facebook, for instance, is already using facial recognition technology in ways that are alarming to European regulators.

After the riots in Vancouver, locals needed no such facial recognition technology — they simply combed through social media sites to try to identify some of the people involved, like Nathan Kotylak, 17, a star on Canada’s junior water polo team.

[. . .]

Read the rest here: Upending Anonymity, These Days the Web Unmasks Everyone

 

Filed under: News Leave a comment
Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)

No comments yet.


No trackbacks yet.