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In this area discuss Internet anonymity where some forms of anonymous behavior in cyberspace can have profound ethical implication. Imagine that there is a very close political election involving two candidates who are running for a seat in a state legislature. The weekend before citizens will cast their votes, one candidate decides to defame his opponent by using an anonymous re-mailer service (which strips away the original address of the sender of the e-mail) to send a message of questionable truth to an electronic distribution list of his opponentï¿½s supporters. The information included in this email is so defamatory that it may threaten the outcome of the election by influencing many undecided voters, as well as libeled candidateï¿½s regular supporters, to vote against her. Does the ï¿½injuredï¿½ candidate in this instance have the right to demand that the identity of the person using the anonymous re-mailer (whom she suspects for good reasons to be her opponent in this election) be revealed?
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While this forum post mentions that the email has “questionable truths” and that it only “may threaten” the voting outcome for one candidate, I feel it is important for any major event like an election, to have full transparency when sending out information. While a “questionable truth” may have some factual background to it, where and who the information came from should be public knowledge. If someone is trying to skirt defamation and libel laws but putting out things that aren’t true, then they have to be held accountable and not allowing them to anonymously release possible false or misleading information is very important.
Anonymity to a point on the internet can be good, especially in the case of normal users daily interactions that help prevent data miners or hackers looking for personal or credit card info, but overall I don’t think it is something that is needed to such an extent that authorities can’t find out who someone is. Looking at the recent “Silk Road” and TOR case, where that site was being used for illegal activities such as drug trafficking, selling stolen items and allowing people to look for hit men and pay for these things in supposedly untraceable bitcoins, to me the importance of general public safety outweigh my need shop or search online without the government knowing about it, just to give an example. Real world illegal activities are far more frequent and serious than the government’s “big-brother” type activities that we worry about that actually affect us.
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