June 18, 2009

Who was that masked blogger?

AlexanderPractical Ethics: Sometimes justice wears a mask: blogging, anonymity and the open society - I blog about the Night Jack case, where a UK court allowed the Times to expose the identity of a police blogger, which led to him being disciplined (and his prize-winning blog deleted).

My core argument is that we need a bit of anonymity to guarantee adequate protection against formal and informal reprisal. Most communication works better if it is non-anonymous, but the kind of communication that needs anonymity is extra important to an open society. The chilling effects of the court ruling go completely against the many other protections for whistle-blowers in society.

The main problem with anonymity is of course that nyms have a harder time building credibility. I am becoming more and more convinced that an trusted third party identity service would be a good idea: you could document that you are who you are and that you have certain properties (being a policeman, holding a Ph.D. etc) with the service, which supplies you with a unique (and sole) authenticated nym. This allows others to check that you have the right credentials, but not to get your identity. Issues of subpoenas are left as an exercise for the law students :-)

Posted by Anders3 at June 18, 2009 07:12 PM