Al Teich, Mark S. Frankel, Rob Kling and Ya-Ching Lee.
The Internet offers new opportunities for anonymous and pseudonymous communications. Users can, for example, engage in political advocacy, receive counseling, and perform commercial transactions without disclosing their identities. The cloak of anonymity can also facilitate socially unacceptable or criminal activities because of the difficulty in holding anonymous users accountable. This paper reports the results of a conference on anonymous communication organized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Among the findings were that online anonymous communication is morally neutral; that it should be considered a strong human and constitutional right; that online communities should be allowed to set their own policies on the use of anonymous communication; and that individuals should be informed about the extent to which their identity is disclosed online. The paper discusses how anonymous communications can be shaped by the law, education, and public awareness, and highlights the importance of involving all affected interests in policy development.
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