DIGITAL AMERICA

Should The Internet Really Be Anonymous?

// Posted by on 02/16/2014 (7:36 PM)

In the film, “We Are Legion,” the members of the group Anonymous talk about how information should be free.  In fact, the rationale for most of their internet attacks have something to do with a group or individual limiting the free spread of information on the internet.  However, during the film I could not help but wonder whether Anonymous is hypocritical in their actions?  They want information to be “free,” but they still keep their identities hidden while on the internet.  It seems to me that the notion of freedom comes along with a certain ownership of oneself.  In the most typical use of the term freedom, one thinks of individuals that want to gain the liberty to be who they are.  Consider, for example, Jews that were oppressed during the reign of Hitler.  Once Hitler’s reign came to an end, they achieved the freedom to be who they wanted to be.  They could practice their Jewish faith and possess the freedom to not hide who they are.  So going off this more typical depiction of the meaning of freedom, aren’t these individuals remaining “anonymous” going against the movement they claim to support?

I believe that alternative views of what the internet should be are much more useful to supporting the concept of freedom.  Consider Mark Zuckerberg, who we discussed in class thinks that the internet should make people feel free to be themselves.  We post information to sites such as Facebook, and as a result the world has a better idea of who we really are.  In a sense, one may consider it very freeing to share information about yourself over the internet.  It represents us owning up to aspects of our personalities, and being will to share these more intimate details with those who know us.  In my opinion, it is visionaries like Mark Zuckerberg who are truly supporting free information.  Mark Zuckerberg is saying, let’s not hide who we are.  Join this forum and have the freedom to be exactly who you are and share with those around you.  In contrast, Anonymous seeks to hide who they really are.  They have no interest in the liberation of expressing your true nature over the internet, and rather they choose to hide their identities from the world.  Is this really what it means for information to be free?

To give my personal opinion, I think that members of Anonymous may raise some reasonable questions about what information the government allows to be shared publicly, but raising these questions anonymously really does no one any good.  It seems that all they really want to do is make a scene and watch the world burn.  There is absolutely no reason that they cannot take a more productive approach to the things that they do.  Work with the government to find a more reasonable balance of free versus hidden information, as opposed to working against them.  They will never accomplish what they claim to desire unless they are willing to step into the public eye and create change through legitimate politics.  I do not necessarily agree with what it is that they want, but lets try to be a little less childish about this whole operation.


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Tec said...

Joshua Hurtado Hurtado

A01139119

The surging Internet battle?

Protecting privacy and countering the State
Kevin, I saw your post and decided to reply to it. I was thinking about the same things, specifically Anonymous and online privacy, and saw your post and decided to comment on it. First of all, I am glad you pointed out that, for the group Anonymous, keeping their identities hidden might be contradictory to their argument, which is the demand for “free” information. I guess it depends on how you look at it. Allow me to explain.

In the case of Anonymous in particular, I believe they hide their real identities because they want to avoid acts of repression. I am aware that there are different forms of conduct that citizens can adopt in relation to the laws in place. They vary from voluntary obedience to active resistance, according to Bobbio (1997). When the established order is considered unfair, acts of opposition arise. When they are collective acts of opposition, they tend to have more impact. Now, I am against the use of violence, which is why I believe some forms of resistance are better than others. But because these acts make the public authorities (and other groups which deem these groups that rise against the establishment a threat) aware of their existence and their agenda, and because they can act against them by taking legal action if not the use of force, these groups need to keep their identities secret.

Yes, I know, some of their actions may be illegal, but illegal is not the same as wrong. Neither are all laws, by virtue of their existence, righteous and moral. Yes, Anonymous, by hacking internet sites, and Wikileaks, by leaking confidential information about the U.S. government, and Snowden, by leaking details of the NSA program, may have caused unintentional and harmful consequences which may be considered treason. But I believe these are actions that had to be done in order to raise awareness about the immoral and potentially harmful actions done by the United States government. One of them, which I remember from the Greenwald reading on the War on Wikileaks, is the manipulation of public opinion in foreign countries in order to sustain support for the U.S. wars. Not only wars are devastating for the countries in which the war takes place, but they help maintain a certain order in global politics that is not inclusive of other cultures, local economies and alternatives to the globalization process. Revealing these actions and the intentions behind them are intended to raise dialogues, and to change the course of global politics so that the global order can be more inclusive and sustainable.

That is why the revelations from Snowden and the NSA have been of particular importance. First of all, political leaders from France and Germany became aware that the NSA had been spying on them. And although I recognize it is normal to spy on others, because it is part of the Intelligence gathering, but I also believe is unethical to spy on the personal conversations of your political allies. With the information gathered, the United States could get crucial information from negotiations in other parts of the world, and might be able to prepare itself for them and take some kind of political action.

Nonetheless, at least domestically, the United States is not an authoritarian, repressive government, unlike others. But here in Mexico, the government and the transnational criminal organizations operating here can take violent action against these groups that leak information. We have (maybe had? I’m not sure) a branch of Anonymous here, and the criminal organizations started killing a few of their members and threatening the rest. After that, I haven’t heard from any noteworthy activity from the Anonymous branch here. In other countries, maybe in the North of Africa, Middle East, Central America or Central and East Asia, the situation could be the same, or worse, with more authoritarian governments acting with violent repression against these kinds of groups.

So, to sum up, I understand your view, and why you say they may be hypocritical in hiding their identities. But I also believe it is necessary, in some way. Everyone has a right to privacy, especially when their freedom and well-being hangs on the balance.

Take care,
Joshua

References:
Bobbio (1997). La desobediencia civil. En N. Bobbio, El Tercero Ausente. Madrid: Cátedra.
Greenwald, G. (2010, March 27). “The war on WikiLeaks and why it matters”. Salon.com. Retrieved on February 10, 2010. Retrieved from: http://www.salon.com/2010/03/27/wikileaks/

// 02/20/2014 at 12:21 am

Tec said...

Ana Isabel Sánchez Meléndez
A01034743
Tec

In response to: “Should the internet really be anonymous?”
By Kevin

I believe that Anonymous is fighting for the right cause, but as the author of this entry mentioned, it can be a bit contradictory the fact that they don’t show their real identities. The way I see it, Anonymous is all about fighting for freedom by showing the authorities that they, acting as the people of the world, also have the means to go unnoticed and hack anything they want. I believe they use this “masks” and identity protection to make a point: the people are sick and tired of being spied on by the government, so in some sort of “manifestation”, Anonymous decides to counter-attack by doing the same, but going unnoticed. This contrast between what the Government is doing and what the Anonymous people are doing is the point of it all.

As the author said, Zuckerberg for example is another actor on the game playing by its own rules. The way he saw it, was to demonstrate people that they could be whoever they wanted online and actually interact freely with other people. In that case, people feel safe talking to their relatives or even meeting new people knowing (and trusting) that they really are who they claim to be. But what happens when they’re not? How many people are out there faking their identities for the wrong reasons? We get scared to think the dimensions of that problem, but we don’t bother to see it is happening not with people, but with the Government itself. That’s why, I believe, Anonymous is fighting this “war” the way they are, to make a point.

I really never thought of it the author of this entry did, and for that I am really grateful for the reflection on the topic. It may seem that Anonymous is just another hypocrite group that doesn’t follow what they preach, but maybe if we see their cause and admire it carefully, it may be way more than it seems at plain sight.

// 02/21/2014 at 8:44 pm

Tec said...

Should The Internet Really Be Anonymous?
By: Kevin
Hi Kevin , I’m Fernanda Rodriguez Tec read your post and I found it very interesting because Anonymus really attracts me.

I never thought in that position you are telling about this group has a double moral because they show what USA in hidding, but they are not showing the real face behind the mask. I think you have a great point, but you need to think one important thing: The government will attack anyone who is attempting against it (the government).

Take the case of Snowden who expose the information that was not reported to the public. If members of Anonymous give the face, it is likely that their network could no longer work the same way . The government would go against them and now who will do the job of giving information? If the government has not informed the people in many years the wont begin to do it now.

You give the example of Peter Pan, who stoled from the rich to gave it to the poor, it is the same as Anonymous: takes away the government the information they do not give it to society to give it to the people and warn them or invite them to talk and to make themselves heard , as in the case of Mexico that Anonymous has called marches to express that the government has failed humanity .
Moreover, I want to report that in Mexico the masks are on display in solidarity to the world. The ones are using it express one thing: “one idea”. I do not know which is the case of USA, but I think a good justification to use more than hide themselves, would not you ?

I think the only solution to this is that Anonymous continue expose governments until they begin to do for themselves, in an honest way.

Fernanda Rodríguez Alejo
811495

Animal Político (2013) Anonymous convoca en DF la Marcha del Millón de Máscaras. Disponible en http://www.animalpolitico.com/2013/11/anonymous-saldra-la-calle-en-la-marcha-del-millon-de-mascaras/#ixzz2u1djvRxW

// 02/22/2014 at 12:26 am