BY GLOBAL VOICES
This post was written by Derechos Digitales and Global Voices’ Advox and Latin America editors.
The right to anonymity is at risk now more than ever.
As we live more and more of our lives on the Internet and we interact more and more with digital technology, it becomes easier to identify us and collect information about our habits, preferences, opinions, and even about our bodies.
At the same time, a discourse that puts security and anonymity in opposition to one another has forcefully permeated mainstream political narratives, drawing strong associations between anonymity and criminality — it has been portrayed as an enabler of delinquency, terrorism, drug trafficking, child pornography and other extremely serious social ill. And there have been numerous legal attempts to limit our right to reserve our identity.
In parallel, governments acquire technology capable of spying on citizens more and more frequently, routinely using technical surveillance mechanisms to go beyond the rights authorized by constitutional laws. They argue these activities are necessary to protecting national security.
Anonymity is exceedingly important because it guarantees liberties such as freedom of expression, the right to assemble, the right to social protest, and the right to seek information and help, among others.
Anonymity protects us all. When we are suffering from a medical condition and we want to seek support and advice from other patients without informing our family, employers, or insurance company for economic or work-related reasons or simply because we feel ashamed; when we suffer harassment or violence in the workplace, school, neighborhood, or even in our own home; when we want to report something to the press or the police, but we believe it might be dangerous; or when we want to demand our rights, but we fear retaliation. There are many day-to-day situations where anonymity can help us to make up for power imbalances and exercise our rights.
Anonymity defends us. Let’s defend anonymity.