1993-10-22 - Anonymity versus Responsibility

Header Data

From: Arthur Chandler <arthurc@crl.com>
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: bcf83fad15084c433b7311688d58d292e0c64a4bdbe1c0f80f8bc68a09c30df7
Message ID: <Pine.3.87.9310211150.A4957-0100000@crl.crl.com>
Reply To: <9310210643.AA27104@netcom.netcom.com>
UTC Datetime: 1993-10-22 23:28:19 UTC
Raw Date: Fri, 22 Oct 93 16:28:19 PDT

Raw message

From: Arthur Chandler <arthurc@crl.com>
Date: Fri, 22 Oct 93 16:28:19 PDT
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Anonymity versus Responsibility
In-Reply-To: <9310210643.AA27104@netcom.netcom.com>
Message-ID: <Pine.3.87.9310211150.A4957-0100000@crl.crl.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

  It still seems to me that the spoofing issue has been oversimplified:
  "Hey, it's a fact of life. Accept it."
  "We're cypherpunks. We have a little fun once in a while. Lighten up!"
  "Spoofing and deception are not the same."
  Then Boxx gets dinged for using spoofs, and Detweiler gets dinged for 
objecting to them.
  Then May comes out with a G-rated spoof, and everyone (almost) has a 
  But I think the issue is too sticky to pass off with flames and grins.
As I see it, the spoofing touches on one of the basic 
opportunities/dilemmas of the NET: anonymity versus responsibility. We 
can say things behind the cover of ascii that we wouldn't dare try IRL. 
So some folks do it. You can explore gender bending, being an asshole, 
etc. -- and no one has to know. Good therapy? Food for the exploring 
mind? Yeah, maybe. But also --
  Good for undermining credibility. Someone spoofs in a letter from 
William Gibson during a heated discussion of Cyberpunk. It LOOKS 
plausible. No one on the list knows Gibson personally. Do you take it at 
face value, or pass it off as a possible spoof? Folks, that ain't 
spoofing: it's impersonation. It's a form of lying. No harm done? Ask 
Gibson if he thinks so. Ask yourself if you would.
  Situation #2: someone writes in a bunch of outrageous opinions and puts 
YOUR name in the sender slot and fires the mess of to the cypherpunks list. 
What are you going to do about it? Quickly  post a denial, no doubt. But 
tell me you wouldn't feel furious. Someone  has used anonymity to 
misrepresent you. In essence, to lie about you in  an ingenious way made 
possible by a combo of human nature and the structure of the NET.
  So: You want to post/pose as *HeAvYd00d* -- hey, go right ahead. That's 
your biz, and I can  use a laugh (the whole scheme of building up an 
anonymous rep seems like juvenile fantasy or disguised cowardice, but 
chacun a son gout). You want to pose as William Gibson?  I've got a 
problem with  that -- and so do you, if the real WG finds out. 
You want to pose as  someone else on this list? Well, do YOU have a 
problem with that?