Walrus TV: The Coming Age of Anonymous

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Originally posted on Walrus TV 

The internet empowers the individual by giving each social media user, each blog writer or commenter, and each person who uploads content to the web, a voice that can be shared with the global public. But in an online community based on publicness, where does the idea of anonymity fit in?

“Anonymity has enormous value. Free societies…have to [provide] means of expressing your views anonymously, and getting them out there,” says Ann Cavoukian, Ontario’s information and privacy commissioner. While anonymity has value in situations like the Arab Spring, it also raises issues of verification.

Photo credit: Vincent Diamante via WikiCommons
Photo credit: Vincent Diamante via WikiCommons

When hacktivist group Anonymous first hit the cyberworld nearly a decade ago, they were first labelled as terrorists. Since then, however, the perspective have changed and the internet is increasingly viewed as a network of collective intelligence that can be used for good. This type of “crowdsourcing justice” earned Anonymous a spot on Time magazine’s list of “The World’s 100 Most Influential People” in 2012.

But in on the wild web,  groups like Anonymous also prompt concerns of digital vigilatism and trial by social media.

So, how do we balance between anonymity and accountability? Who is responsible for creating and enforcing the rules of the web?

In partnership with Walrus TV, RdigitaLIFE talks to renowned technology writer Clay Shirky, Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian, law professor Danielle Citron, Women in Toronto Politics founder Steph Guthrie, and Forbes privacy columnist Kashmir Hill to get some answers and insights into what being anonymous means in our digital lives.

 

 

 

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