Saturday, September 29, 2007

The-Paris-site: Comments That Rang Clear

The-Paris-site: Comments That Rang Clear....9/27

Interesting story about a blog that is being sued by a hospital. The blog is posted to anonymously, and the hospital is claiming defamation.

I don't know enough about the story to comment, but it brings up something I have to tell a lot of people far too often: there is no anonymity on the Web.

There is a perceived anonymity that has long been inherent thanks to free E-mail accounts, nicknames, forum IDs and the like. If you want to sign up as hotgirl22 or professor55 you're free to do so, but using the Internet requires that you identify your machine. From there, everything you do is tracked.

Every thing you do on the Internet bounces through routers all over the country. You request a Web page and that request goes from your machine to maybe 30 locations, all capable of logging the request. At a minimum both your ISP and the server you requested from will store your information for some time.

Now, for the most part, no-one cares who you are and you can skate through all sorts of Internet life as hotgirl22 or professor55 for years, but the second someone starts to care you should know that someone, somewhere probably knows who you are.

You purchased Internet access with a credit card. You provided a secondary E-mail address. You bought something. You signed in at the library.

There is no anonymity on the Web unless you're prepared to work very hard to obtain it.

Whether or not you have a right to anonymity on the Web is another discussion, but when your mediocre attempt at anonymity falls flat simply because you logged on under an assumed name, don't think for a second you'll be able to preserve your secret.


Disclosures and Disclaimers


My employer is compensated through funding to provide analytical research, technology solutions, and Web-based public and private health care performance reports by the State of New York, the State of Illinois, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Commonwealth Fund and Bridges to Excellence. I am not being compensated by any of these organisations to create articles for or make edits to this Web site or any other medium; and all posts authored by me are as an individual and do not represent my employer or the agencies I work for.