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The need for anonymity

By Rand Race in News
Fri Jun 16, 2000 at 04:26:20 PM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

An article at the Freedom Forum tells how the University of California shut down a website called Burn (now hosted by UC San Diego) that supports a Columbian rebel group because the maintainers of the site would not identify themselves on the site. I don't know if I support their movement or not (probably not) nor do I think UC did not have a right to remove the site, but this is an excellent example of why anonymity is essential to free speech.


The maintainers of the site were dealing with topics for which they could well come to harm. The director of computing at UC even remarked that "To be brutally frank, none of us bureacrats want to take a bullet for these students that won't stand by their site,". Doesn't suggesting that they identify themselves, rather than simply banning the page, imply that they don't care if the students catch a bullet?

Court rulings upholding anonymous speech were made for precisely this reason. So that the threat of harm would not stifle political speech, as it has done here.

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The need for anonymity | 15 comments (15 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Good discussion. Mis-guided analysi... (none / 0) (#1)
by Anonymous 242 on Fri Jun 16, 2000 at 02:20:56 PM EST

lee_malatesta voted 1 on this story.

Good discussion. Mis-guided analysis.

Rand Race: Doesn't suggesting that they identify themselves, rather than simply banning the page, imply that they don't care if the students catch a bullet?

Not at all. Suggesting the students identify themselves only means that the professors want the students putting up the sight to not hide behind the university. If the site-maintainers identities were on the site, then people would know who is responsible, and if there is to be a reprisal, it will be a targeted reprisal, not a general reprisal.

I'm not saying that the university was correct in shutting down the site, but I do think that in a case like this, that maintainers of the site were the ones acting thoughtlessly, subjecting all staff, faculty, and students to possible harm in the event of a reprisal.

Bye and bye, is this not yet another situation where something along the lines of freenet would be beneficial to all involved? Or do I misunderstand the anonymity of freenet?



I'm not sure what to make of this -... (none / 0) (#4)
by inspire on Fri Jun 16, 2000 at 02:21:29 PM EST

inspire voted 1 on this story.

I'm not sure what to make of this - on the one hand it sounds suspiciously like censorship.

But on the other hand, the argument I put forward in crayz's article also works here - having a web page hosted by the University is a privelege, not a right.

I'll use this voting time to figure out exactly where I stand on this issue.
--
What is the helix?

Everyone should have the right to f... (none / 0) (#5)
by Eimi on Fri Jun 16, 2000 at 02:22:22 PM EST

Eimi voted 1 on this story.

Everyone should have the right to free speech, and in some cases, the only way one can be free to speak is by being anonymous. However, not everyone has a right to post whatever they want through University of California computers. They own the systems, they get to set the policies. To insist otherwise would be to quash the University's freedom.

Yawn. ... (none / 0) (#6)
by Saint Zero on Fri Jun 16, 2000 at 02:22:49 PM EST

Saint Zero voted -1 on this story.

Yawn.
---------- Patron Saint of Nothing, really.

Why do I vote -1? ... (none / 0) (#7)
by PresJPolk on Fri Jun 16, 2000 at 02:32:41 PM EST

PresJPolk voted -1 on this story.

Why do I vote -1?

1. Anonymity was just discussed. I thought this was a discussion site, instead of a news site.

2. A university server is not the only place in the world to get hosting. fortunecity.com, geocities.com, tripod.com, and a bunch of other places can do the same. UCSD is a public institution of learning, and its resources should be restricted to that purpose. Protest on your own time, and your own dime.



If it's the school's servers... ... (5.00 / 1) (#8)
by tzanger on Fri Jun 16, 2000 at 02:35:23 PM EST

tzanger voted 1 on this story.

If it's the school's servers...

... Then the faculty has every right to do this. Why didn't they put it up on Geocities or something?



May have to link to this story from... (none / 0) (#9)
by TheDude on Fri Jun 16, 2000 at 03:19:37 PM EST

TheDude voted 1 on this story.

May have to link to this story from Smokedot as well.
--
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Re: May have to link to this story from... (none / 0) (#13)
by MrEd on Fri Jun 16, 2000 at 06:06:58 PM EST

Hehe - Plug!

Watch out for the k5 superiority complex!


[ Parent ]
Re: May have to link to this story from... (none / 0) (#15)
by 3than on Sat Jun 17, 2000 at 03:56:27 PM EST

Hey-I notice that smokedot is down. I hope that you're transferring it to smokedot.org for real...you guys should register it. So the emails on the page work at least...smokedot is a great site, but you guys need to be contactable. I'd love to hook you up with some linkage, but you're hard to get in touch with. IRC?

[ Parent ]
Granted, from what's come out of Co... (none / 0) (#10)
by Mephron on Fri Jun 16, 2000 at 03:20:38 PM EST

Mephron voted 1 on this story.

Granted, from what's come out of Colombia the past few years, it seems they don't care if they shoot the right person as long as SOMEONE gets shot, bleeds, and dies in full view of others to get their point across. The question is, what are the terms and conditions of having a website on the UC servers? If they violated the T&C document that students invariably need to sign, then there's a perfectly legal reason. And if they can't find out who it is, then technically one COULD call it a T&C violation.

... (4.00 / 1) (#11)
by MrEd on Fri Jun 16, 2000 at 04:02:28 PM EST

MrEd voted 1 on this story.

This is indeed a topic worthy of conversation. While I understand why the admins for the University of California would not wish to have feedback from such material reaching them, these are the sort of tests that one faces when living in a society that proposes to have free speech. Just like taunting the police into attacking a protest in order to destroy their credibility, these students have tried to taunt the U of C staff into removing their webpage, it seems. A quote from the page : "Any resemblance between the views expressed herein, and those of the University of California, the Regents of the University, or the Department of Communication, is probably the result of an error on our part." My interpretation? "We don't give a fuck about what the University thinks, but as students we're guaranteed the right to a webpage, so fuck all of you!"

I believe the quote, "I do not agree with what you have to say but I will defend to the death your right to say it." is appropriate here. The U of C has a legitimate gripe, but they still are in the wrong, in my opinion. They took the easy way out, and I guess they'll get away with it...

A band I enjoy, Propagandhi, have a lyric that seems appropriate.

"Speech isn't free - it's only for those who can afford to raise their voice." ... or buy a server, I guess.

Watch out for the k5 superiority complex!


Yeah, I can't really picture someon... (4.00 / 2) (#3)
by Neuromancer on Fri Jun 16, 2000 at 04:10:02 PM EST

Neuromancer voted 1 on this story.

Yeah, I can't really picture someone posting the following. I perform abortions, if you would like to kick my ass, I live at... Please ask for "Bitch" when you come to my door.

I can already hear both sides of th... (none / 0) (#2)
by drivers on Fri Jun 16, 2000 at 04:19:24 PM EST

drivers voted 1 on this story.

I can already hear both sides of the argument... should be an interesting topic.

Standard University policies (4.50 / 2) (#12)
by fluffy grue on Fri Jun 16, 2000 at 04:48:47 PM EST

Here at NMSU, there is a standard policy regarding websites, which is pretty much standard for all universities. All websites must have the contact name and email address clearly available. Some universities go so far as to mandate that a clear distinction between the site's views and the university's views exist as well.

It's their servers, their policy, their rights. If these anonymous people don't like it, there's plenty of places that they CAN anonymously post their views. pair Networks is cheap, gives very good service for very low cost, and has a very specific policy against not violating site owners' privacy (which was really annoying when I desparately needed to get in touch with the ml.org folks and there was no way to). Their admins seem pretty cool and are definitely competent, as well.

I'm all for anonymity. However, they should have been aware of the university's policies before they hosted their site on the university's servers. I personally feel that UC did nothing wrong.
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]

Re: Standard University policies (none / 0) (#14)
by FlinkDelDinky on Fri Jun 16, 2000 at 07:49:51 PM EST

Fluffy's dead on. The University owns the equipment. These guys's speach is not being threatened, there are plenty of sites they could use (probably for pay though, which is fine by me).

The admins make a good point too. Their names are out there, these students remain anonymous. WTF is that?

PS. just got back from Titan A.E., not bad, not good, reasonably fun. Some cool art. It was worth $5 for the big screen.

[ Parent ]

The need for anonymity | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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