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Cyber Anonymity

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Posted · Report post

I don't know if you're familiar with Reddit, but there has been a major controversy surrounding the leakage of the real-life identity of one of its moderators. The crux of the controversy, as I understand it, is that Reddit is supposedly a major proponent of 'free speech' but it's administration has suppressed the flow of information on the mod's identity.

So I think it brings up an interesting question. Should there be a right to cyber-anonymity? Do you have a right to keep the persona(s) you use online separate from your real life persona? Should the internet give you the right to say whatever you want whenever you want without fear of repercussion on your real life self?

On the one hand, in cases where there is the possibility of unfair retribution for speaking unpopular truths (i.e. under oppressive regimes that threaten your family for speaking out against them), then it seems cyber anonymity should be protected, as part of the right to free speech.

On the other hand, cyber-anonymity can be abused, in the spreading of untruths, and, more frequently, in the being of giant A-youknowwhats. The redditor in question supposedly begged the person who exposed him not to, saying that it would "ruin his life".

Personally, I like keeping an 'air of mystery' about my cyber personas, so for me, cyber-anonymity is more about protecting my cyber identities from my real life identity and each other than protecting my real life identity from my cyber identity. And definitely I would never be ashamed for my online persona(s) to be revealed to the people in my real life. Actually, I probably would be proud.

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Posted · Report post

i try to write posts as if everyone knows who i am.

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Posted · Report post

Google Amanda Todd and figure out the horrors of internet anonymity.

This case is beginning to garner international attention, especially with Anonymous (the evil hacker group) getting involved.

I don't support internet anonymity, because although there are some benefits to it, I think that there are many more dangers involved.

Sure, it is helpful to hide your identity to share information against oppressive regimes and the like, but there are other methods than could be used.

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Posted · Report post

Wow, after reading into this reddit moderator guy, I just realized exactly how intertwined these events are.

The violentacrez guy apparently started something called "jailbait" where people share pictures of underage women.

This is (possibly) the same website mentioned when talking about the 32 year old man who harassed and stalked an underage woman resulting in her suicide.

The internet creates a place for the dangerous people to meet and escalate their activities. Without the ability for people to act as they do, there would be less escalation as they wouldn't have the support system and competition with each other.

Would they continue to feed their perversions if they didn't have this type of system?

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Posted · Report post

Here's some information about your violentacrez guy:

Michael Brutsch

Arlington, TX • +1 989 278 8724

michael@mbrutsch.comwww.mbrutsch.com

Summary

Over twenty-five years of programming, design and systems maintenance experience with a focus on the UNIX/Linux environment and systems software. Extensive experience in the development, implementation and maintenance of user interface systems.

Note to Recruiters: I no longer use MUMPS, and do not know of anyone who does. Thank you.

Current Skills

Scripting Languages: Perl, Bash, PHP

Integration: ACH, Leads Online, Business Watch International

Databases: SQL Server

Packaging/Code Control: Git

Misc: Regular Expressions

Past Skills

Visual Languages: Visual Studio

Scripting Languages: MUMPS

Web Technologies: HTML, CSS, Apache Server, XML, SOAP, JavaScript

E-Commerce: PayPal, PaySystems Integration

Databases: SQL Server

Networking: Bind/DNS, iptables, iproute

Packaging/Code Control: APT, RPM, CVS, BitKeeper

Misc: LDAP

Experience

First Cash Financial Services - Arlington, Texas

August 2004 - October 2012

Application Developer

  • Write point-of-sale and back-end accounting applications for financial services company using Perl and MS-SQL
  • Experience with police/FBI reporting for pawn stores, ATF regulations for gun sales, and ACH integration

    Photo Digital Imaging - Irving, Texas
    April 2004 - August 2004
    PHP Programmer / Linux Systems administrator
    • Contracted to redesign, rewrite and deploy portions of golf-related website
    • Developed threaded socket server to communicate with Verifone POS terminals Implemented server-side message handlers based on predefined protocols
    • Introduced CVS for source code control
    • Compiled and installed MySQL/Apache/PHP on Debian and RedHat servers
    • Implemented wikiweb (TWiki), used extensively for online documentation
    • Typical sysadmin duties, including tape backups, server installs, user mail, Windows integration, etc.

      Global Cyber Strategies - Dallas, Texas
      August 2003 - March 2004
      Perl Programmer / Linux Systems administrator
      • Maintained DNS for several hundred domains using Perl scripts
      • Wrote Perl scripts to generate custom Apache configuration for several hundred domains running on remote webservers
      • Wrote front-end scripts in Perl and PHP for database data-entry, server-side scripts in Perl to generate websites from templates and data
      • Compiled/installed Linux kernels, Apache, PHP, etc.
      • Replaced SonicWall firewall with Linux/iptables
      • Installed LDAP; migrated existing users
      • Typical sysadmin duties, including tape backups, server installs, user mail, Windows integration, etc.

        Netmark, International - Anchorage, AK. (telecommute)
        August 2001 - October 2003
        Perl Developer
        • Migrated existing Perl CGI scripts to OO-compliant modules in support of mod_perl conversion
        • Led migration of Perl codebase from CVS to BitKeeper
        • Acted as primary support programmer, for existing 400,000-line Perl codebase
        • Led migration of support tracking to Bugzilla
        • Interfaced payment systems with PayPal and Revecom (Paysystems), using Perl
        • Developed cost-based ROI tracking

          Intrusion.com - Dallas, Texas
          January 2001 - August 2001
          Perl/CGI Developer
          • Developed a secure, SOAP-based API for remote system administration in Perl using SSL over HTTP on a hardened Redhat Linux
          • Developed a modular GUI framework and subsequent web-based client in Perl based upon the SOAP API
          • Served as buildmaster; led migration of codebase from CVS to BitKeeper
          • Built RPMs for Perl Modules from in-house and third-party code for public release
          • Managed development process from requirements to 'gold' manufacturing release

            TIAS.com - Houston, Texas (telecommute)
            January 2000 - January 2001
            Systems Engineer
            • Responsible for developing, operating and maintaining all email services for a registered user base of 100,000 individuals, using Perl
            • Managed bulletin boards, written in Perl
            • Performed sysadmin tasks and systems support for five high-end servers
            • Modified GPL C code as required for improving systems functionality

              Dynacare Labs, Inc. - Addison, Texas
              1999 - 2000
              PHP Developer (Contract)
              • Developed interactive corporate Internet/intranet web site using PHP with MySQL and Apache running under Red Hat Linux
              • Created forms to allow employees to update web site information without editing HTML
              • Made modifications to 3rd-party website hosted by Dynacare
              • Developed forms and templates using PHP and custom graphics using the GIMP

              Electronic Data Systems (EDS) - Plano, Texas

              1998 - 1999

              Systems Engineer, Advanced

              [*]Linux system administrator for departmental Apache web server

              [*]Authored and maintained intranet site using PHP and MySQL on Slackware and Red Hat distributions

              [*]Installed and upgraded Apache, Perl, Samba, MySQL, and PHP

              [*]Familiar with standard GNU utilities, X11, networking, firewalls

              [*]Managed local and national development teams developing desktop and distributed applications using Delphi and HL7

              [*]Provided support to Y2K / IV&V group

              Laboratory Corporation of America (LabCorp) - Dallas, Texas

              1997 - 1998

              Senior Systems Analyst

              [*]System administrator for Linux and Windows NT servers

              [*]Designed NT-based intranet

              [*]Trained users in web design and maintenance using FrontPage and related technologies

              [*]Adapted laboratory instrument interface specs for use on intranet

              [*]Maintained existing laboratory systems

              [*]Developed instrument interfaces

              [*]Trained users in device troubleshooting techniques

              [*]Developed system utilities

              [*]Designed and implemented device management system

              VA Medical Center - Charleston, SC

              1989 - 1996

              Senior Software Developer (GS-11)

              [*]Technical Lead for Delphi development project to replace and augment legacy MUMPS-based HIS systems with client/server Primary Care application

              [*]Experienced with Borland Delphi V 1.0 - 4.0, MUMPS, HTML, Windows API

              VMS Systems Manager (GS-7 - GS-9)

              [*]Responsible for 24x7 hospital data center including VMS and DSM systems, VMS clusters, DSM installation and configuration, application and IDE upgrades, VMS upgrades and performance tuning, and PathWORKS LAN

              [*]Developed numerous time-saving automated systems for multiple environments

              [*]Gained proficiency in VMS, DCL, MUMPS. POSIX, Clustering, DECnet, PathWORKS, TCP/IP (UCX)

              Digital Computer Mechanic (GS-5)

              [*]Software Developer - Developed integrated software interface to automated pharmaceutical equipment

              [*]Distributed and supported software nationally

              [*]Computer Mechanic - Responsible for rewiring datacenter, PC hardware installation, troubleshooting and maintenance

              Miscellaneous Positions

              1983 - 1989

              Office Manager, Warehouse Manager, Machine Operator and Computer Operator

              U.S. Air Force - HQ AFSC, Andrews AFB, MD / HQ SAC, Offutt AFB, Omaha, NE

              1981 - 1983

              MAJCOM Programming Specialist

              [*]Assigned to Command Headquarters

              [*]Developed software to monitor mainframe system performance

              [*]Created graphics display systems for reporting to senior command staff

              [*]Interfaced mainframe and PC networks in support of ARPANET using Z80 and TOPS-20 assembler

              [*]Trained users and technical staff

              AWARDS

              Superior Performance Awards - VA - 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994

              EDUCATION

              Technical and programming training initially obtained during scholarship programs and military service; additional education subsequently gained through in-house training, independent study and industry seminars.

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Posted · Report post

Because trial and sentencing by internet is such a great thing...

If they are found guilt in a court of law then punish them. Until then there should still be such a thing as innocent until proven guilty.

Personally I think you are very much in the wrong for publishing someone else's personal information.

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Posted · Report post

As for my stance on the issue... I believe in anonymity otherwise it becomes very easy to punish people for having differing views.

Without anonymity imagine how easy it would be for those CEO's to target their democrat employees for layoffs for not voting for Romney. (Not trying to start a Romney versus Obama. I'm targeting the CEO's behavior which would be just as bad if they were doing it for Obama.) How could it not suppress political conversation online? How would you know you weren't picked for the layoff because you boss doesn't agree with what you posted online?

With all the zealots in the different idealogy camps... either we don't post anything or leave ourselves open for real life consequences for anything we post.

I find it humorous TheChad08 that you would repost personal information about someone else but you don't even have your gender and location filled out. I noticed you didn't include your own resume. Because of my view point I don't think you should have to provide your own personal info...I just find it amusing considering your view point.

As for your example of criminal behavior online. I do think that with court orders there should be ways to remove anonymity enough to prosecute the guilt parties. The key being court ordered, not by default or by vigilantes.

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Posted · Report post

As for my stance on the issue... I believe in anonymity otherwise it becomes very easy to punish people for having differing views.

Without anonymity imagine how easy it would be for those CEO's to target their democrat employees for layoffs for not voting for Romney. (Not trying to start a Romney versus Obama. I'm targeting the CEO's behavior which would be just as bad if they were doing it for Obama.) How could it not suppress political conversation online? How would you know you weren't picked for the layoff because you boss doesn't agree with what you posted online?

With all the zealots in the different idealogy camps... either we don't post anything or leave ourselves open for real life consequences for anything we post.

I find it humorous TheChad08 that you would repost personal information about someone else but you don't even have your gender and location filled out. I noticed you didn't include your own resume. Because of my view point I don't think you should have to provide your own personal info...I just find it amusing considering your view point.

As for your example of criminal behavior online. I do think that with court orders there should be ways to remove anonymity enough to prosecute the guilt parties. The key being court ordered, not by default or by vigilantes.

Chad

Male

26 years old

Georgetown, Ontario, Canada

My laziness of filling out the profile is not a representation of anonymity.

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Posted · Report post

"I am Spartacus!"

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Posted · Report post

@phil: I post as if no one knows who I really am *cue Life is Like a Boat by Rie Fu* ;P

@chad: (cool last name, btw ;)) What other methods would you suggest to garner support for your cause on a mass scale without being punished by an oppressive regime?

@curr3nt: Do you really think a boss would go to the trouble of stalking his employee's cyber personalities to find out their political orientation and would fire them for it? Aren't there laws against that?

And don't bother posting my resume...it's just a front anyways, that the secret organization I work for put up :ph34r:.

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Posted · Report post

No, those bosses would likely hire someone to do it for them. And it is only illegal if the employees can prove that was why they were laid off. Also, what stalking would be required if there wasn't anonymity? Just google people's name and see what they post. Since everyone would have to post under their own name instead of user names to avoid anonymity.

You do know voter intimidation is supposedly illegal right? Didn't stop some of them threatening their employees that they will have to lay some of them off if Obama is re-elected. Since when were business leaders the symbol of ethics and legality?

For those that do not want anonymity, how would you enforce it? Just what we need, another government agency to issue internet licences. Would there be a log in or biometrics or whatever before you are allowed to post anything or use a device to access the net? Once those are hacked then what?

Where do you draw the privacy lines while online? Without anonymity it will become so much easier to track everything you do online since the net would have to know who you are to enforce it. You think no one will want to track, categorize and analyze your behavior? Or are we not allowed to use the net without accepting that cost?

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Posted · Report post

The controversy surrounding the redditor, at least, and what the OP was based on, was not whether to force non-anonymity, but whether to protect anonymity, as some sort of a right. On reddit, threads were deleted by mods that talked about the real life identity, even though reddit prides itself as a center for 'freedom of speech'.

Hence my question to you assumed there was 'stalking' since the RL identity could be traced if anonymity is not protected, but unless the person themselves posted under their real name, they would take some effort.

The extreme case you discuss is interesting, and if people want to discuss it, it's fine, but it's not the same situation that I am discussing.

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Posted · Report post

Ah...

I think we have the right to anonymity online if we chose. On the other side I think that a court order should be allowed to uncover anonymity in the case of crimes. As long as the anonymity isn't used for criminal actions it should be protected.

As for the Amanda Todd case. If it turns out this guy did it then charge him and prosecute him. For the people that are outing all his information, do they even care that they might be wrong? The ones that discovered a possible link should have contacted the police instead of judging him guilty.

Our court systems are far from perfect but in the long run they are a heck of a lot better than vigilante justice.

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Posted · Report post

The main difference between Anonymous outing the guy and the police doing is it the collection of evidence.

Groups like Anon could hack into Amanda's Facebook account, or his, and figure out who was sending the messages.

Police aren't given that ability and any evidence collected from that, or follows from that, would be inadmissible in court.

As for my views on anonymity.

Perhaps instead of removing all ability to be anonymous, we should fix the current system of changing IP addresses.

What if you could allow people to be anonymous with usernames and their online identity, but if every individual has their own special code/pin/IP address/etc. then it would make it a lot easier for police to deal with cyber crimes.

Granted this still allows the oppressive governments to figure out their activists, but it is a better balance between complete anonymity and full disclosure.

I'm also sure that it would be relatively easy for there to be a group set up in a free state that would allow those in oppressed states to send information directly to them, and then they would broadcast that to the rest of the world. It is similar to using a proxy server, but it is using a willing proxy person.

P.S. My last name is Eastern European, I claim it is Polish. I have no idea how to pronounce it properly since I am Canadian through and through.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

From what I understand regrading this particular case involving the redditor, his identity was discovered not by hacking or combing data, but for someone whom he entrusted that information with in real life. That person decided they no longer, if ever, cared for the content of the redditors on-line activities and so gave his identity to the press (and I use that term loosely).

It is also my understanding that Reddit has a policy against doxing so deleting any posts regarding a person's identity is absolutely the correct position for them to take and is not a free speech issue. I admit I don't spend a lot of time there, so my understanding my be incorrect.

Personally, I like anonymity. My neighbors don't know much about me beyond what they can see from their front window, simply because I don't tell them and choose not to. I don't care to know their business either. I'm a bit of an introvert in that respect. At the same time I am very civil with them and will help them if it looks like they need it or ask for it. I have a hard time with today's social media and it's overload of needless information. My children are a source of anxiety with their desire to tell complete strangers every small detail of my actions (My dad built a castle on Minecraft and he's way older than my mom!! (the later is an untruth propagated by their mother)).

I feel that I conduct myself on-line in a similar manner that I do in real life. I try not to do or say anything that I could not later own up to or look you in the eye and say, "Yeah, I said that, because that's how I feel". I try to consider the feelings of others as long as they are reasonable.

There are some who do not conduct themselves this way and the shroud of anonymity seems to bring out the worst in them. Almost as if, when they are concealed, they are not themselves and are able to bypass any internal filters or conscious. This happens in real life as well. People feel hidden inside a marauding mob or under a balaclava.

I feel that there is a right to anonymity, until a law is broken. I feel that there is a right to free speech despite how repugnant or disagreeable I find that speech to be. Sometime you have to take to good with the bad. Anonymity has it's value as well as a distasteful side.

Edited by Prof. Templeton
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Posted · Report post

Both curr3nt and Prof. T bring up an interesting point about "let anonymity stand unless it's criminal". I probably would agree with this, except for I don't really think the courts are yet fully equipped to handle cyber crimes. I mean, like hacking into a bank and stealing money, they can do something about, since the stealing of material wealth is something they have been dealing with for a long time, but like, things that could be considered 'crimes', that are unique to the fabric of cyber-space, there's still not a firm policy on. Just because something is not a crime yet, does not mean it shouldn't be :(. Technology and the world we live in is changing so quickly, and like, legislation is so slow (especially with the current state of congress *cough*), that it's not surprising that cyber-vigilantes take it on themselves to punish 'wrong-doers'.

It really saddens me that people use cyber anonymity to bring the worst out in themselves. Personally, I see it as an opportunity to be better than you are, to free yourself from the shackles of life and responsibilities and society and be the person you really wanted to be. I mean, in real life I have had to make compromises, I'm pretty sure we all have had to. We need to keep our jobs, make money for food and shelter, take care of our families, sometimes tone down our crazeativity to work with others and get the mundane minutia of life done (well, I know I've definitely had to), etc. But in cyber space I can be strong and uncompromising and let my crazeativity run rampant. I mean, yes, I know I'm not polite or tactful and there are people who don't like cyber me, but that's okay....and that's the beauty of it. If (and sometimes when) people in my real life discover my cyber-personality(ies), sometimes they're surprised, but I don't feel like their opinion of me is impacted negatively. In fact, often I feel like they have a new respect, a new appreciation for the sides of me they hadn't seen before.

Anonymity gives the opportunity to reinvent yourself. Why so many choose to be re-invented as villains when they have the opportunity to be heroes is beyond me :(.

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Posted · Report post

Both curr3nt and Prof. T bring up an interesting point about "let anonymity stand unless it's criminal". I probably would agree with this, except for I don't really think the courts are yet fully equipped to handle cyber crimes.

Yeah, they're not so good at policing the "regular" stuff either. Good with the bad, right?

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Posted · Report post

To be completely fair, the U.S. stance on freedom of speech is ridiculous.

Canada has freedom of speech, but we don't allow people to promote hatred and say whatever they want. We limit their rights based on the rights of others. Your Westboro Baptist Church wouldn't be allowed to operate how they do in Canada.

The constant claims of "FREEDOM OF SPEECH IS MY RIGHT" with respect to these racist, homophobic, etc. statements just seems like a contradiction to the freedoms of others.

I am quite pleased with the Canadian progress in terms of bullying online. As everyone knows, that Amanda Todd woman was Canadian, and recently there has been a strong push for punishment for cyber bullying. 8 students were recently arrested/detained in London Ontario with respect to cyber bullying.

That being said, it is extremely hard to police the internet because of jurisdictional issues. If an American is posting hatred on a Canadian website (or website accessible by Canadians), we cannot limit their rights.

As for reddit, I don't visit the site but I never knew the dark side of it and how inappropriate it was.

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Posted · Report post

Personally, i find it both dangerous and freeing. Trusting people on the internet is something that has never been a problem for me, although i would never meet up with someone alone and without knowing who they are.

My name is Jenny. This is not an alias, and I'm perfectly fine with using my own name. I use it often. I trust a lot of people on the internet with my personal information. Im friends with a lot of denizens on fb.

However, i dont think any of them know my address. They could, I'm sure, but I know who I friend. I make sure theres a life behind the profile.

In the end, i believe in the right of it. But its a power that has to be wielded carefully. Trust wisely.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Hmm, I don't think I'm that anon around here...anyone who knows me here, knows that I'm not strict on anonymity...yes, i do believe that a certain amount of anonymity is required. However, it is becoming easier to trust people online, especially with all these new security measures. It's getting easier to trace & reveal people who prey on others...so, I think it's comfortable, to an extent, to be a little lax on anonymity... :)

Edited by EDM
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Posted · Report post

I, personally, believe that internet anonymity should be maintained. That's because anyone who's bullied/ discriminated against in their normal life can go on the internet and not have anyone know who you are. I will say this, however: anonymity is often abused. An open request to the world: don't be a jerk. There's really no excuse. In real life, sometimes you just say something, but on the internet, you have the opportunity to review your words before you post. Please, there's enough hate in the world.

Back on topic, anonymity is not to be abused. If people were just a little bit more empathetic and read their message just one more time, suicide rates due to cyberbullying would take a nosedive.

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