The negative impact of Internet anonymity

Person wears a Guy Fawkes mask which today is a trademark and symbol for the online hacktivist group Anonymous. 2012.


The negative impact of Internet anonymity

With the help of TOR anonymity, people cannot identify, making it impossible to hold accountable for any misconduct or crime and to bring to justice. The most common impact of anonymity that many people come across everyday is cyber bully and racism. Stolen ID or fake ID can be used as easy to commit crime and illegal activities without being known. Proponents of anonymous communications on the Internet have opened the door to many forms of criminal and anti-social behavior, while leaving victims and society helpless. TOR’s anonymity in fact promotes cybercrime like hacking, virus; credit card fraud, harassment and identity thefts are increasing. These crimes damage estimates around billions of dollar per year and also human cost in terms of ruined reputations, loss of trust and general deterioration in morals is immeasurable. Accountability requires all communication to be traceable and the information to be available to courts subject. With the anonymity on the Internet and the free flow of communication, we are setting criminals free tickets to escape from the crimes they commit. Is it really worthy to risk all this in exchange for freedom on the Internet?

Through the free flow of communication that TOR facilitates, highly sensitive material/ information could be leaked; paybacks could be made to secure lucrative deals (Julian Assange’s case, Snowden’s case), elections could be rigged, and arrangements could be made for political opponents to be attacked or even eliminated. This could lead to completely unaccountable government; the U.S and China always on the news for this matter.

Distrusting a government accountable to the people is one thing, facilitating a government completely unaccountable is quite another (David Davenport).

Freedom of speech is once again mentioned as anonymity plays a large role in it. Anonymity can be employed and overused, turning freedom of speech into hate speech or offensive illegal matter. Because anonymity is such a powerful mask to cover for whoever behind it, taking no responsibility or accountability for the wrongdoing. However, anonymous communication is not necessary for freedom of speech. TOR anonymous communication can be in some extend ineffective. Messages sent anonymously are unlikely to have much impact on their own; only if the recipient of a message knows and trusts its writer. If communication is entirely anonymous then it is difficult to establish a relationship with its communicators.

Not only that, TOR also reduces Internet stability and security through its anonymity feature (Johnson, 2010). The use of anonymity is putting the security of the Internet and the communities rely on its at risk. It supports spammers, stalkers, hackers, digital vandalism, bots, rogue accounts, digital gang wars, fake identities, identity theft and many other online illegal activities. It can be seen as a security threat under many circumstances both socially and politically.

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