Saturday, May 19, 2007

Who ARE You??

Do you post entries on your blog under a pseudonym? Do you identify yourself by name in your profile or elsewhere in your blog? What about your hometown?

Is there any way someone could find out who you are by reading your blog?

What about comments you make on others' blogs? Do you post as your blogger ID or by some other alias? Can someone learn your identity by comparing things you say on other blogs with that which they can find on your blog via a link you provide? What if they did a search on your alias and cross checked entries they've found? What can they find out about you?

Perhaps you post comments anonymously. That's right - you see something on a blog about which you feel strongly, but may not want your comments associated with your regular blogging activity, so you post your ideas incognito.

Or maybe you're the type who doesn't want to give up anything about yourself and just wants to blast the blogosphere with garbage and trash talk because you can get away with it - disguised as an unknown entity.

Have you ever made a comment on a blog, pseudonymously or otherwise, that you have rued?

Modern Technology and Anonymous Comments

Anybody with a lick of sense knows that it is difficult to truly hide one's identity from the Internet, thanks to utilities that identify IP addresses, etc. Anyone who doubts they can ever be "outed" after posting an anonymous comment should read A technical guide to anonymous blogging by Ethan Zuckerman. This is about a fictitious woman who wanted to blog anonymously to protect her identity. The article tries "to approach the problem from the perspective of a government whistleblower in a country with a less-than-transparent government."

Though the article refers to a person trying to blog anonymously, the content can carry forward to one who may want to comment on someone else's blog without revealing their identity.

A Case in Point

OK, so now enter a boy out there with a chip on his shoulder and a computer on his lap. He thinks he's just a gift to society with his rambunctious self. He's got the power to blast anyone and anything via his laptop, and he worries little about anyone, (least of all his parents,) finding out who he is because he publishes all his diatribe uncredited.

Perhaps he doesn't realize that technology exists that can identify him via traces he sends out with his camouflaged identity.

Currently, law enforcement needs a subpoena to acquire identifying information from an ISP or other organization that can track such data. A kid with too much time on his hands and not enough homework would probably fall under the radar of anyone interested in tracking terrorist plots, and such.

But not everyone who can control such identifying information works well with the law. In fact, many who have nefarious goals may decide to publish information associating certain rude comments with identifying information leading right to the name of the individual who made such comments.

Exacerbating the problem is that once the comments are out there, they're out there permanently in many cases.

So here's some advice:

  1. If you've never published a comment you feel you would later regret, don't.
  2. If you HAVE commented in a manner that is less than respectful, and have cloaked yourself in anonymity, stop.
  3. And if you continue to think that anything you say anonymously will never EVER come back to haunt you some time in the distant future, beware.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Communication Gap

An American walks into a hat store in a foreign country and finds one that he likes.

"How much is this one?" he asks the sales person.

"Five hundred US dollars," she answers, in adequate English.

"$500? That's just a little more than what I wanted to spend ..." he says, somewhat disheartened.

"Then for you, I will lower the price to $475."

He says, "Thanks, anyway," and walks out.

She is somewhat confused as to why this customer did not buy the hat after she adjusted the price in a manner she thought was in line with what he requested.