Wednesday, June 17, 2009

British Court Rules Against Blogger Anonymity

I twittered (posted on Twitter) the link to this story in the Guardian yesterday: Publish and be named: Police blogger NightJack loses anonymity High court says detective constable had 'no reasonable expectation of privacy' in landmark ruling for bloggers I thought for sure there would be a debate on Twitter about the repercussions of this case but I was disappointed at the lack of response about it. Perhaps people don't realize the implications. Personally, I prefer to blog anonymously just because I don't think it's necessary for everyone to know my full name but if I did have to reveal my identity it wouldn't be any big deal. However, there are many other bloggers who are posting about their professions and are servng as vital whistleblowers when they expose injustices and wrong-doings. If these bloggers no longer have a right to privacy and feel threatened, I would expect many such blogs will suddenly disappear. In fact it should come as no surprise to learn that the NightJack blog has now been deleted. What are your thoughts about this case? Do you agree with the ruling? Do you blog anonymously? Would you continue blogging if you had to reveal your identity?

6 comments:

  1. I'll respond more fully later on but needless to say I agree with all you say!

    Uphilldowndale has done this post about it
    http://uphilldowndale.wordpress.com/2009/06/17/anon/

    I've mentioned both that and this one in my today's post as well. xx

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  2. Thanks, Flighty. I'm sure not everyone will agree with me so it's nice to get my first comment from you!

    I'm going to look at Uphilldowndale's post now, and then your post.

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  3. It's probably not a surprise, although I'm disappointed. I too blog semi-anonymously, although I suspect someone could figure me out if they tried hard enough. And I do try to stay away from work details for the usual reasons, namely to avoid being "Dooced"

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  4. Yes, I'm sure someone could figure me out too. I know that anonymity is never guaranteed (hence the reason I don't share very many details about my private life) however as you say this ruling is disappointing. I think the bloggers who are bravely exposing wrong-doings in their work place may be quite reluctant to do so now.

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  5. Here in America, we are continually reminded that nothing we do on the net should be assumed to be private unless you are making a secure transaction like an online purchase. Even then, you are at the mercy of those sites and have to hope that they are doing everything possible to keep their site "hack free" so to speak.

    I just completed two courses in Computer Forensics and I know first hand that absolutely everything you do online can be traced and traced back to you without much effort at all really. You may blog anonymously but all someone would have to do is put a trace on your I.P. address and know exactly where (and who)you are. Now, most people would not bother going to these lengths of course, unless you are under investigation for a crime or your boss suspects you are doing something unethical during work hours, etc. and in many cases it requires a warrant to demand access to private information from companies. In my workplace, we are continually reminded that everything we do online while at work or through work email is considered their property and we should know that everything can be traced.

    Recently, we have heard of quite a few cases where Facebook users have lost their jobs because they posted content their employer did not agree with. So this article doesn't surprise me. I think a good rule of thumb is to not blog or tweet anything that your employer might find objectionable or anything that might be considered slanderous or a conflict of interest. Sure, in America we have free speech but that doesn't mean we are protected from all the consequences of such. We are not allowed to threaten the President, yell "bomb" in an airport or yell "fire" in a crowded room. People get sued or lose their jobs all the time. Remember what happened to Don Imus, just one of many.

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  6. Oh, I know I can be traced by anyone who has the means available - and furthermore it's even worse in this country because an EU directive means all internet service providers have to retain information from all emails and website visits. Data from phone calls and text messages will also be stored and made available to the government plus its agencies and local authorities. So I am fully aware that my blog can be traced back to me.

    However, there is a real danger to freedom of speech if cases such as this recent ruling become the norm. Sadly, I think vital whistle-blowing will occur less frequently if at all. And the repercussions to that are obviously not good for society.

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