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Quote of the Day - I want a big career, a big man, and a big life. You have to think big - that's the only way to get it... I just couldn't stand being anonymous. - Mia Farrow
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Can You Truly Be Anonymous?

The Internet provides a perhaps comfortable feeling that you can sit in front of your computer monitor and no one will ever find out who you are.  Feelings aside, the assumption is far from the truth.  Your particular computer is identified by its own IP (Internet Protocol) address.  Sure, sophisticated users can attempt to spoof IP addresses, but nothing truly works to hide your identity. 

Even aside from the technological issues, Internet users have used monikers and other "anonymous" names to hide their identity.  For the most part, those attempts don't work, either.

Several prominent bloggers have found out the hard way.

Anonymity is sometimes troubling to those who are attacked anonymously on various websites and chat rooms, and at least one of those individuals took steps to "out" the anonymous attacker.  In Teaneck, New Jersey, a firefighter and the town council had a long-running, 10-year litigation battle over alleged civil rights violations.  While the town council and the firefighter fought it out in the court, a second battleground emerged on a locally popular website, http://www.nj.com/

The barbs hurled back and fourth involved the firefighter, William Brennan, and an anonymous "AntiBrennan," who called Brennan a "litigation terrorist," a "pathetic psychopath" and a "paranoid-delusional, over-paid-under-worked sicko."   Brennan responded, calling AntiBrennan "another anonymous coward" and a "hateful beast."

But it didn't end there.  Brennan sent a subpoena to nj.com, and found out that AntiBrennan was actually Teaneck Township Council Member Michael Gallucci.  Once exposed, however, the tables turned, and Gallucci was called on to resign his position on the Council and ultimately (and allegedly) so ridiculed that he sold his house at a loss and moved out of town.

Galluci, however, was surprised that the website released his email address that revealed his identity.  He alleges in a suit against the website that it violated its own privacy policy and New Jersey law, which requires notice of the subpoena to be posted on the website and allow the user the opportunity to oppose the release. 

Some view the case as a test of whether Internet users will be able to sit behind their monitor and remain anonymous.  Maybe they should just write a book, instead.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, February 25, 2007 at 14:01 Comments Closed (0) |
 
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