Why Ending Online Anonymity Is The Best Thing Our Society Can Do

by Sunny Hoi

The Internet can be a daunting place, notably for those that know and acknowledge its perils. For every bitter ex-couple rejoiced or friendly tweet exchanged by President Trump on social media, there always appears to be a fresh cyber attack, data breach, or con artist intending to utilize cyberspace for their clandestine gains. A day never passes by without the notion or real possibility of some new frightening online threat circulating, from the Locky ransomware malware and Cloudbleed attacks to news of threats to the future, such as hacks on IoT devices like self-driving cars and critical medical equipment like pacemakers. Every facet of our contemporary life is amalgamated with both the benefits and dangers of the web. As technology continues to advance without restraints, it is merely going to become more deeply interwoven in every dimension of our existence. Hence, it is indispensable that our society takes every action conceivable to curtail or wholly counteract all of the menaces to peoples’ lifestyles. To accomplish this, ending online anonymity is a necessary first step.

Anonymity has always been employed as an exploitive tool such as permitting the flow of information from autocracies and the divulgement of incriminating illicit evidence briskly covered up by multinational corporations. Significantly, anonymity in this modern era is increasingly being exploited. The result is entities worldwide being manipulated, deceived, and ultimately damaged. It’s truly time to ponder whether anonymity still serves as a positive aspiration for those that advocate it wholeheartedly. A concrete illustration of anonymity in its demised state, for example, derives from the benefits of unveiling anonymous cyber bullies and hate groups. The deterrence of transmitting hateful messages would increase tremendously since their true identities would be revealed to the world as a whole, right alongside their discourses. Currently, cyber bullies and various hate groups may disseminate and proliferate their discourses with nigh immunity since they are vastly unlikely to be penalized in reality. On account of those who will emerge as their future victims, this ought to change.

Terrorism and virtual fanaticism, prevalent in cyberspace if one knows where to look, would also experience colossal hits from the bare stripping off their protective online anonymity. With regards to deception and cyber crime, they may not vanish completely, but the comparative alleviation brought about by their anonymity most surely would. Moreover, the possibility of them being vanquished draws closer. Online black markets such as the disreputable Silk Road, an anonymous covert and enigmatic market for everything ranging from illegal substances to hitmen, would discover that their revenues massively undermined as the most of their clients disappeared. All of these advantages merely require society making one minor change to the background wiring that connects the planet.

Since information security professionals are taking steps to protect their private networks, why is our society not taking the most pronounced step to protect the one we all share? If obsolete anonymity were removed from cyberspace, we would perceive enhanced security for ourselves and our families, while at the same time striking a significant blow against every darker, more malevolent resident of the internet and dark web. Ending anonymity is the first and foremost priority we should make, in the interest of a hopeful tomorrow.

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