Anonymity is derived from the Greek word ἀνωνυμία, anonymia, meaning “without a name” or “namelessness”. In colloquial use, anonymity typically refers to the state of an individual’s personal identity, or personally identifiable information, being publicly unknown.
Usernames, gamertags, screen names, and other pseudonyms have all accumulated in one thing. A thriving mass of masked Machiavellian misfits waiting to obnoxiously smear their opinions in the most public forms available. With the number of online users increasing yearly, the problem has no foreseeable solution. In fact, the “problem” of anonymity is subjective.
Johan “Julf” Helsingius is the administrator for a frequently shutdown anonymity server known as anon.penet.fi. The server was created to provide users with remailing service. A remailing service “…forwards electronic mail or files to other network addresses. Before the remailer forwards the information, it strips the header from the original email so that the information showing where the message originated is no longer attached to the email. Many anonymity services replace the header with anonymous addresses such as nobody@nowhere. The eventual recipient of the message then has no idea about who sent the email and where it originated.” The server achieved worldwide popularity, with new anonymity servers opening all over the world.
In this “writer’s” somewhat humble opinion, the opportunity presented by anonymity is not for the user to openly express opinions that have been possibly limited or even restricted in today’s society. Society has placed limitations and regulations upon their civilians since the dawn of organized existence. The reason behind having these in place is for one thing, preventing anarchy, utter chaos, and mass confusion. The one’s who are abusing their current privilege of anonymity are using it for one thing, as a gateway to a virtual reality without laws, where there is no accountability for one’s actions. Don’t believe me? Play a couple hours of the latest Call of Duty game online. You’ll hear a lifetime’s worth of offensive slanderous exchanges.
To prove my point, in 1995, the Church of Scientology used the Finnish police to demand the name of a user of anon.penet.fi because the user was believed to have stolen certain documents from the CoS. Julf, under pressure of a search warrant, revealed the name of the user.
Obviously anonymity has fingers in more than just the comments section. Slowly but surely, our virtual ambiguity has been consistently deteriorating. With hackers becoming alarmingly skilled, and hacking tools becoming more and more readily available, the average computer users’ information is a few clicks away from being stolen. What are you hiding behind your username?
Stay Thirsty My Friends,