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Anonymity online - is it for you?

  TOPCAT® 16:49 11 Sep 2005

Is possible to be totally anonymous online and is this really a desirable thing?
click here

There's more on this subject at ClickOnline (RealPlayer required) on the right of the page. They first discuss the merits of the latest processors, which could be helpful to the uninformed. TC.

  powerless 17:13 11 Sep 2005

I have no reason to be anonymous.

  powerless 19:48 11 Sep 2005

Photographer by day.

MI5 by night.

  TOPCAT® 22:11 11 Sep 2005

I believe online anonymity has much wider implications than some would believe. Here in the UK the responsible surfer has no need to hide his/her identity and only those of depraved mind or with criminal intentions would seek it.

The ability to conceal one's identity has opened the door to much freer communication than would otherwise be the case. Those living in a repressed country who cannot openly voice an opinion for fear of persecution, ostracism or embarrassment, are thus able to communicate about topics and in ways they would not risk otherwise.

As mentioned in the article, the US are visibly encouraging its use in China and Iran and I would guess that it is being secretly promoted by other developed countries including this one. TC.

  Diemmess 12:27 12 Sep 2005

An example of legislation which tends to frustrate the innocent yet only marginally delay the criminal, was the fairly recent restriction of access to the electoral roll.

This was because of the Data Protection Act and some civil action taken against their local council by someone who showed they had been targeted by cold callers using the electoral roll as a source.

Consequently the voter's list is no longer available in post offices etc for casual public scrutiny.

  bremner 13:48 12 Sep 2005

The full electoral register can still be be viewed but not copied. The edited version is available to all.

click here

  Diemmess 16:46 12 Sep 2005

You are right. I felt I was on dodgy ground, but it is a hobby horse of mine that legislation makes things difficult for ordinary mortals yet doesn't seem to bother those it was meant to control.

Our village post office doesn't carry the roll any more, and our particularly timid district council guard the definitive document like the crown jewels!
The aging copy I have is useful over and again to direct visitors to some half-baked address.

  polymath 21:27 13 Sep 2005

One of the things I immediately loved about the web is being able to be anonynous in forums. It eliminates the prejudices and preconceptions that can get in the way - age, gender, race etc. It's a pure meeting of minds. (But, as I enjoy confounding pigeonholes, I'll reveal that I'm a 60-year-old female. Don't tell anyone!)

I do use my real name in forums about my occupations (art and writing), as that's part of possibly furthering those interests.

  Forum Editor 01:00 14 Sep 2005

if that's what you want. The important thing surely is choice - it should be up to me to decide whether I want everyone to know my name, or how old I am, etc.

When the time comes that all of us can know everything about the rest of us I shall consider the end has come - I don't really want to live in such a society, although I might well end up doing so I suppose. I don't believe that someone should have to justify a desire for anonymity, if that's what they want it's fine by me - they don't have to explain themselves, and they certainly shouldn't be made to feel that they're in any way 'odd' because of it.

There's a tad too much information flowing around in some respects, and it's time to reflect on whether or not we're happy with a society which routinely demands that we identify ourselves. I'm fed up with being asked for my postcode and house number at shop checkouts for instance.

  polymath 20:40 14 Sep 2005

I agree with FE that it should be a matter of choice, apart from the obvious exceptions necessary for combating crime. Demands for personal details are too often just a sneaky way of building up a database for marketing (legitimate or otherwise).

I made the choice, when moving from the UK to Ireland in the early 90s, to swap my UK driving licence (which would still have been acceptable) for an Irish one, because the Irish one (with photo) was even more efficient for ID purposes. That same little bit of paper continues to satisfy the Eire to UK airlines, and is handier than a passport. I wouldn't mind identity cards one bit, provided they're not asked for unneccessarily. But this isn't the place to open the Pandora's Box of that debate, so I'll shut up!

  pavvi 21:30 25 Feb 2006

I know this is from a while back, but here you may be aware I work for Carphone, and 99.9% of our customers understand why we ask for address details: a number of people lose their receipts, and yes, while they should be more careful (as we all should be) taking details enables us to recapture the transaction instore, so that should a repair or exchange be needed we always have access to a proof of purchase and are able on request to reprint the receipt... we also do not pass details outside the carphone warehouse group (except of course for the networks for contract phone bills)

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