Online anonymity has been a bitter pill for governmental organizations as well as the standard market forces since it can’t be monetized and can’t be easily traced. Now, Google’s formal CEO Eric Schmidt thinks that online anonymity is a dangerous thing and that in the coming days, governments would want to put an end to that to ensure security. Clearly, Schmidt does seem to be towing the government’s line.
Schmidt did differentiate between online privacy and online anonymity. According to him, ‘Privacy is incredibly important. Privacy is not the same thing as anonymity. It’s very important that Google and everyone else respects people’s privacy. People have a right to privacy; it’s natural; it’s normal. It’s the right way to do things. But if you are trying to commit a terrible, evil crime, it’s not obvious that you should be able to do so with complete anonymity.’
Any philosophically sound person would say at this point that this is a flawed causal argument. But then, that would’ve been the last thing on Schmidt’s mind while giving the statement.
What we think is that the hacktivist outfit ‘Anonymous’ has struck kind of a fear into the hearts of government organizations who now want a tight, secure system in place so that no one gets to do anything contrary to the government’s wishes. It would be as easy as deactivating his/her accounts and cutting that person off the web. And naturally, we don’t agree one bit to that scenario, much as it is desired by the leading security agencies of the world.
Schmidt further stated at one point, ‘The only way to manage this is true transparency and no anonymity. In a world of asynchronous threats, it is too dangerous for there not to be some way to identify you. We need a [verified] name service for people. Governments will demand it.’
These are dangerous words, coming from Google’s formal CEO. Given the fact that Google has an immense influence over the tech world and is able to access unimaginable amounts of data, it is plain scary that the company seems to conform to the ideology of having the right to know everyone online. Contrary to what Schmidt thinks, privacy and anonymity can be one and the same at times. And that needs to be respected.