We Aren’t Anonymous, We Are Legion

Picture: "botgirlq" (CC)

The debate regarding internet anonymity continues. boingboing reports:

Over on his Google+ account, Kevin Kelly says:

The major impact of the Petraeus affair has nothing to do with the military, sex, or celebrity — it is that there is no such thing as anonymous, and that the US government is able to access internet and credit card records without warrants, just because they ask to. Your digital life is not private from the government, ever; therefore, your life is not private. Read the details in this important reporting by +Andrew Leonard:

“[This] debacle confirms something that some privacy experts have been warning about for years: Government surveillance of ordinary citizens is now cheaper and easier than ever before. Without  needing to go before a judge, the government can gather vast amounts of information about us with minimal expenditure of manpower. We used to be able to count on a certain amount of privacy protection simply because invading our privacy was hard work. That is no longer the case. Our always-on, Internet-connected, cellphone-enabled lives are an open door to Big Brother.”

I have nothing to hide; I am just saying anonymous is not anonymous.

There is an argument that the end of anonymity and dawning of a new age of honesty will in fact play against the establishment. Previously, so the theory goes, they have been protected from the reality of their situation by an intoxicating combination of dishonest flatterers and almost superhuman hubris. This heady mix has confused them with the lie that it is they who are in charge of the world; as opposed to the human collective. The logical end point of this line of reasoning is that an end to anonymity will bring a day of reckoning for the establishment which they are wholly unprepared for.

This article has been posted to in order to provoke a vital debate in the comments section.

Nick Margerrison.

  • charlieprimero

    It’s a good question. Perhaps people will take authoritarianism seriously when they are no longer able to hide from it. People might demand more freedom to use chemicals, reduce taxes, and live openly.

  • Haystack

    When I first saw this what came to mind were the Army-McCarthy hearings. As long as Joseph McCarthy was just bullying Hollywood-types there was fairly little pushback, but once he took aim at the establishment itself…

    It’s possible that incidents like these will serve to remind the ruling class that they also have to live in the world that they’re creating.

  • http://just-john.com just john

    Well, if we’re going to talk about The Government, we should remember that it’s not a unified entity. If I understand the Petraeus story as it stands so far, an FBI agent started poking around into Army and CIA people’s emails.

    So don’t think of it as “The Government has a big file on you.” Rather, The Government has several big files on you, some of which likely contradict each other.

    And when it comes to controlling Government intrusion into our lives, well, some parts of the Government will pay attention to those rules better than others. Heck, some parts won’t even understand the rules. And there are always individuals within agencies who will snoop on their own, out of malice or just plain boredom.

  • Karmik Anarchist

    Well, if you’re not doing anything illegal, you’ve got nothing to worry about.

    • Randel

      Until they make something YOU do illegal! That statement you uttered is known as one of the most ignorant statements of all time. Many people have said that and it will be that way of thinking which destroys our society. I pray you posted that for satire and you are not truly that ignorant.

  • Nunzio X

    It’s not just The Government, it’s The Corporations who insist on vacuuming every bit of data they can about every person who connects to the Web.

    Astounding to consider: people who wouldn’t let their closest friend track their every move on the Web or keep geo-track of them via their smartphone, have absolutely no problem allowing an ever-growing army of strangers to do so.

  • auto5734955

    If you’re stupid enough to put information on the computer that can be used against you, you’re the kind of clown the internet and sites like facebook were meant for. What do you suppose the military invented “internet” was released to the public for and why do you think they’re called web browsers and inter…..net. It was formed to catch internal things/people/spies/information, just like a spider catches flies, put up the web and wait for unsuspecting careless victims. The only information that was supposed to be accessible, as a lure, was useless trivia, but other useful things snuck in. The computer should be used, like as if, you were talking to a stranger in a bar, if you don’t want it to be public knowledge and/or used against you, KEEP YOUR BIG MOUTH SHUT,or in other words don’t put it on your computer no matter what. If that computer ever gets hooked to the internet there are people who can and will enter through back door or other means and access the information. GET A CLUE !

  • kowalityjesus

    It’s true that we have all taken for granted that surveillance was expensive, so not common. Now that it is cheap, it is like shooting thought criminals in a barrel!

  • http://twitter.com/Stevebarrasford Automatic Bop

    To browse anonymously over the internet. Use a Tor browser. A quick google search will let you know how it works.