1993-03-26 - Re: Anonymity, accountability, and control

Header Data

From: Theodore Ts’o <tytso@Athena.MIT.EDU>
To: greg@ideath.goldenbear.com
Message Hash: babbfc8c479ee92ee79ae5bca24b06da71c59974db85d5ca719ba41c0b45d206
Message ID: <9303261643.AA04023@SOS>
Reply To: <26H11B1w164w@ideath.goldenbear.com>
UTC Datetime: 1993-03-26 16:45:18 UTC
Raw Date: Fri, 26 Mar 93 08:45:18 PST

Raw message

From: Theodore Ts'o <tytso@Athena.MIT.EDU>
Date: Fri, 26 Mar 93 08:45:18 PST
To: greg@ideath.goldenbear.com
Subject: Re: Anonymity, accountability, and control
In-Reply-To: <26H11B1w164w@ideath.goldenbear.com>
Message-ID: <9303261643.AA04023@SOS>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

   From: greg@ideath.goldenbear.com (Greg Broiles)
   Date: Fri, 26 Mar 93 01:14:00 PST

   I've got my net access becuase I pay UUNET roughly $50/month for
   it - and I get my own domain name, with as many hosts (and as many users
   on those hosts) as I care to set up......

   It's this slippery notion of 'accountability' that is perhaps at the
   root of this 'anonymity' problem - the idea that there's gonna be some
   hell to pay if somebody writes to 'postmaster@leviathan.com', and
   complains about Chris Jones. The fact is, you can mail to
   'postmaster@goldenbear.com' and whine all you like, it's just another
   alias for the same damn person (me). I think there are going to be
   more & more people like me in the future - I *am* my boss,
   the postmaster, and the sysadmin - and if people don't like what I do or
   say on the net, that's just too damn bad.

Well, there is still *some* accountability --- if you do something
really wretched, and someone complains to UUNET, won't UUNET at least
tell that person who is paying for that link, and if you do something
really egregious, and UUNET gets enough complaints, will UUNET shut you

I suspect that it would take something really serious to cause UUNET to
shut you down --- for example, if you started sending child porn, which
might enable the Feds to seize *UUNET*'s computers --- but there is
still some limited amount of accountability, and potential retribution
if you do something which enough people considers is wrong.

If we lived in a world where it was easy to filter out anonymous {mail,
news}, and the anonymous poster had to *pay* for each octet of {mail,
news} that he/she posted, then I suspect that a lot of objections to
Anonymous mail and news would die down.  Many people have said this
repeatedly, and I agree with them.

Unfortunately, we do not live in such a world now, and pretending that
we are in such a world (by answering people's complaints with promises
of vaporware) is just going to make enemies.  But by working towards
such a world, so that people can get all of the benefits of anonymity
without forcing *other* people to pay the costs of anonymity --- that is
certainly something which should be applauded.

						- Ted