It’s definitely one of the first concerns people express to me regarding anonymous web surfing – “what exactly are you trying to keep quiet ?“
Although I always find it’s easily countered with –
“Well why do you want to know what I’m doing ?“
Then the coughing and spluttering will start followed by excuses about how there are many criminal activities online. So if I am able to keep my anonymity online, well so can all the terorists, hate groups and online criminals – so anonymity protects these people.
I think this is a very weak argument, it begins on the premise that you have no idea where to look. What are you likely to find when snooping on someone online – mostly nothing, occasionally something you may not approve of but something more dangerous, extremely unlikely using such a broad surveillance tactic.
One of the problems with surveillance is that there are so many personal and hidden agendas. Just look at places like China, where people want to tell you how to act, how to think.
If I’m surfing anonymously, I’m not doing anything bad, but there are plenty of people who might think normal things are terrible. I don’t follow a religion, so my watching atheist lectures online or reading articles debunking creationism could be offensive to many devout people. If I’m in the wrong country such behaviour could even threaten my liberty!
We really have to have Anonymity Online
The reason we need to protect our right to anonymity online is not always to protect against the legitimate authorities but also the snoop who will be also spying on you.
The principle is that everyone should be entitled to some privacy. I close the door when I got to the bathroom not to hide what I’d doing, but merely I don’t want to be watched ! If you ask I’ll tell you why I went to the bathroom, but I’m worried about why you need to know!
It’s just the same with the internet, sometimes you are happy to be open, but sometimes you want privacy. I might not mind my friends at the rugby club knowing I watch online porn, but might be slightly more reluctant to admit to membership of a knitting forum.
In many countries it’s even more important to keep some online privacy, Turkey is a pretty free country overall, yet it actively bans gay websites. Is visiting a gay website a criminal thing to do, incredibly in many countries it could end up costing you dear, sometimes anonymity online is a desire, sometimes it’s essential.
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