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Privacy Versus Anonymity
Last week, after the terrible treatment Robin Williams's daughter underwent, as a result of his suicide, I started to write a thread on why privacy was great, but anonymity tended to be the evil brother to it. So I started looking up the "privacy vs Anonymity" issue and the number of articles was huge.

I fully well meant to start this, because I was reminded of one of our members, The Buzz, and how he reacted when he discovered that I had cracked his perceived anonymity. But I somehow became distracted, and just forgot to post this.

But it seems I was not alone in my thinking about how important the difference between the two terms. How Your Uber Rating Can Make You a Better Person. I'm not bringing this up because Walter Isaacison's piece is ground breaking, but because the topic is so important concerning the idea of civility and respect toward others. Frankly, some of the earlier articles found on the search link I posted above, are even better. But, like the others, he does make good points, such as:

Quote:At first this might seem a creepy invasion of privacy, especially if you’re less than a five-star passenger. But there’s a virtue to losing your anonymity. Once you know you’re being rated, just like the driver, you’re likely to be a bit nicer, sit in the front, and make conversation. The world becomes slightly more civil.

Plato in The Republic writes about the Ring of Gyges, a mythical piece of jewelry that allows its wearer to become invisible. His question is whether such a person would always be moral when assured that no one could see him. Plato’s brother Glaucon says it’s obvious that we’re more likely to behave like a jerk, or worse, when we know that we’ll never be caught or called out.

Now, this is somewhat true, but not always the case. And this brings me back to The Buzz. When he discovered that I had found him out, and began posting about his blue motorcycle, and that he resided in the Omaha area, he became outraged. Forget that I never gave out his address, or real name. Just the fact that he had been 'found out' was enough to go into a tirade. At the time he was almost totally beyond civility, and I was on the verge of banning him for his outrageous behaviour. But the result was his slight moderation of his behaviour. Granted, he is still less than civil, but not equal to his previous behaviour. I can only assume that the possibility of total exposure led to him moderating his tone.

And the real point is that privacy and anonymity are not the same thing, just as freedom and Liberty aren't either. While one(anonymity and Freedom) equals the other(privacy and Liberty) it quite simply does not travel the other way.

And this is very important. It is one of the reasons why I do not believe in Twitter, and am not really a fan of Facebook, or other means which allows for anonymity. People, who don't have to worry about being caught for their lack of civil behaviour, are more prone to be outrageous, to the point of damaging others.

Does anyone else have any thoughts on this topic?

Good topic, John.

This reminds me of the fact that the "Right of Privacy" was invented out of whole cloth - a metaphor describing a doctrine that refers to implied powers of the federal government. The doctrine is best known from the Supreme Court decision of Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 85 S. Ct. 1678, 14 L. Ed. 2d 510 (1965), where Justice William O. Douglas used it to describe the concept of an individual's constitutional right of privacy.

It always seemed absurd to me that a Pederast could get away Scott-free because the "Right" of privacy in his bedroom is greater than child abuse. The counter argument has always been that all criminal behavior is criminal first - and any intrusive actions that uncovers it should not fall under the "fruit of the tree" argument.

If someone intrudes into the privacy of a person, that action may be illegal, but only if the intrusion injures that person unfairly. If the light of day finds criminality, then that discovery should be legal. Sue the person who intrudes without cause - but don't make discovered "facts" against a true perp inadmissible in order to frighten police or detectives from all acts within the shadows.

As for anonymity, in a game of hide-and-seek - the object is to see who is better at the game: hiding or finding. Not a right - just a game.
Bill, this is something that will eventually need the participation of the general public. We don't need the State to intrude either.

So what is the best way to help correct this? I think we really do need to bring back the concept of "Shame". It seems that nobody is ashamed of themselves these days. If society would go back to making shame a big deal, and following through on it, there would be far less of this assault on civility. Nobody(well, almost nobody) really wants to incur public shame for their bad actions.

I dunno about not needing the State to intrude... it is the State's stupid idea in the first place that needs to be overturned. How many proved felons and psychopaths have been set free due to technicalities?

It is the idea of undeserved privacy that shelters a person from shame. Allow the idea that a person's conduct is what is important - not a closed door - and more shame will reappear.

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