Should Bloggers have the Right to Anonymity?
There seem to be more and more cases emerging of blogs resulting in some pretty dire issues. Recently a British police officer was disciplined over the content of his blog. This was a blog that he wrote anonymously, but that was traced back to him. There are frequent examples globally of people losing jobs owing to something they’ve said on their blog. So should a blogger be entitled to complete anonymity and therefore be able to say whatever he or she wants?
This is a tricky one. To some extent, bloggers already do have that right. It is possible to make a blog entirely untraceable to an individual and it’s not a hugely complicated procedure. But I’m not talking about whether this is a method people should undergo in order to hide their identity. I am talking about whether people should be answerable for the things they write under an alias or alternative identity?
And frankly, I take a pretty harsh stance on this. For a police man to slate the police force on a very public blog, regardless of whether he was using his name or not, was thoughtless and stank of cowardice to a certain extent. He would have had a nice long retirement in which he could have spent time quite openly slating his profession had he wished. But as a public servant working for a body on which the public has such a reliance, to slate its practices through a blog is entirely irresponsible.
When you blog, regardless of whether you do so under your name or a completely made up name, you make your opinions public domain. You have to be prepared to stand by them. The Internet offers less anonymity than we think. Anything you make public online you have to assume is going to be publicly read and you have to be prepared to answer to it at some stage. And I’m all for that. The right to speak your mind is critical, but it’s entirely abused when people don’t have to accept any ownership for thoughts and opinions.
So my own opinion? While anyone may choose to write under an alias, nobody should expect that they have the right to never have to answer, under their own identity, the things they’ve written under an alias.