Google recently published a blog post that explained, in no uncertain terms, that the company is committed to supporting individuals who want to browse the web and share information without identifying themselves. The blog post emphasized that the Web should allow three kinds of interactions: anonymous, pseudonymous, and identified. While some online functions may require identity, and while some users may prefer in some situations to link certain online transactions and interactions to their real names, at the same time users should be able to search for information, find locations, send and receive email, and create documents without disclosing their identity to Google, potential government monitors, and other users.
As Internet users are increasingly prompted to link their real name identities to their online activities (through services such as Facebook Connect and Facebook’s new comments feature), many are speculating whether the Internet will cease to remain a place where individuals can access information and engage in various activities without identifying themselves. Some voices are arguing that, in order to achieve public policy goals such as cybersecurity, pseudonymity and anonymity have no place online. Others predict that market driven developments such as personalization and user uptake of the social Web will lead to a Web where all or most online activity is linked to one’s real-world identity.
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