“Anonymity on the net under fire”..cries out a report in ndtv.com..(India) The report opens a debate on whether stringent laws against anonymous profiles being used in social networking sites is detrimental to the growth of Internet or not.

Some experts seem to feel that laws may stiffle growth of Internet.

It is however necessary for us to differentiate between “Anonymity”, “Pseudonomity” and “Impersonation”. What the law should attack is “Impersonation” in the name of “Anonymity” which reflects in the problem of fake identities in the social networking sites. These are harmful to the person whose identity is assumed by another person and has to be checked even if this affects the growth of Internet.

However “Anonymity” or “Pseudonomity” which protects the privacy of a person and still enables a person to work on the Internet need not be banned.

Practically, it is possible that some activities which start as harmless activity may turn out to be perceived as harmful at some other point of time. Law has to provide for intervention in such cases. This requires that “Anonymity” or “Pseudonmity” to be unravelled under an operation of law. This is precisely what happens today when an ISP reveals the user of an IP address or an e-mail provider provides the membership details.

Law should therefore mandate that membership of Internet services should be based on real identities but the user may be allowed to assume public avatars which are different but not resembling other known identities. Such “resemblance” may not be measured only in terms of “name” but also with reference to the assumed profile.

This would break a middle ground which is acceptable both to Privacy supporters and regulatory bodies.

Perhaps we can experiment such an innovative provision in the future version of amendments to ITA-2000

Naavi of www.naavi.org

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