Online anonymity is essential for political dissidents, whose role has been highlighted in the uprisings in the Arab world, and for corporate whistle-blowers. In the United States, the Supreme Court has found a constitutional basis for protecting anonymity.
Why, then, are the calls for restrictions on Internet anonymity growing?
Last month, Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich of Germany said bloggers should disclose their true identities, citing the case of the Norwegian terrorist suspect Anders Behring Breivik, who had blogged under the pseudonym “Fjordman.”
Um, no. Breivik actually blogged under the name “Andrew Berwick.” He did, however, make numerous references to the work of Fjordman, whose name is Peder Jensen. (I’m not revealing any secrets here: Jensen outed himself last month.) Friedrich did not confuse Breivik and Fjordman, so this error is clearly Fanner’s.
Still, if anything, the error reinforces Fanner’s point: if the media can screw up your identity, it’s probably just as well that they don’t know you.