The Imperative of Anonymity

Ross Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road, was sentenced last week to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.  His crime was creating a piece of software that allowed completely anonymous market transactions between individuals or groups of individuals.

Anonymous market transactions have existed since the beginning of human commerce.  In nearly every instance in which a major corporation chooses a parcel of land on which it intends to build a manufacturing or distribution facility, it uses a dummy corporate entity as the purchasing agency.  It does this for sound competitive reasons.  If a competitor knew, in advance, the plans of a competing organization it could anticipate and react in ways to stifle the new development.  Likewise, a company that plans to get into the computer market place would usually contract and buy components anonymously for the first build.  This way the company can surprise its potential competitors and hopefully gain a market edge.  There are thousands or other examples where anonymity is necessary for a healthy competitive business environment.  Even individuals benefit from anonymous commerce.  Many individuals prefer anonymous purchases to prevent sellers from aggregating information about them, which generally results in unwanted and annoying solicitations.  Millions of people buy stocks and other commodities in the names of trusts or blind corporate structures for sound business and personal reasons.  Even charity frequently requires anonymity.  The Benefactor may not want publicity, or, for a personal reason does not want to be associated with the entity they are benefitting.  Or they simply are modest, or they don’t want to publicize their wealth for obvious reasons.  Secrecy and anonymity are essential for a smoothly running financial universe.  This has been the way of the world of commerce for thousands of years.

This necessity for anonymity, however, has attracted criminal elements for as long as anonymity has existed.   A benefactor making a large contribution can create an offshore corporation using proxies to hide his identity.  So can the Sinaloa Cartel when they want to hide a substantial monetary transaction.  So can anyone engaged in illegal activities.  This is the nature of the beast we call society.  Society has always had criminal elements. It always will.  But we somehow live with it and survive.  How did we arrive at a place where a bar owner is not arrested when his patrons make shady deals in his booths while having dinner, but we sentence a man to life imprisonment because he creates the same environment on the internet?  Am I the only one here who sees the insanity of this?

The tradition of anonymous speech has existed for millennia.  The founding fathers of America published numerous papers using pseudonyms, and the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the rights to anonymity.   Even the right to anonymous political campaigning was established in the U.S. Supreme court in their decision in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections commission (1995), with the majority opinion writing: “Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority”.

Law does not only protect anonymity, it, in many cases requires and enforces it, for example: in laws regarding voting in free elections.

Society cannot function without the option of anonymity.  Anonymity is necessary for the existence of privacy and freedom.  Personal anonymity provides irreplaceable benefits for the individual:

Oppressive political regimes have existed since government was first invented, even within democratic countries.  Dissidents within these countries cannot speak openly about political abuses, such as racial, religious or cultural oppression, without serious risk to themselves, their families and their friends.  Without the possibility of anonymously distributed information, the world at large would never perceive the reality of the regime in power, and repression would continue or increase unnoticed by the world.

In anonymous discussions, issues of race, gender, social status and other factors, which are generally judged, disappear.  What people perceive is a person’s intelligence, humor, eloquence etc.  People therefore feel, and are treated, more equal.

Anonymity allows a person to open up and reveal important or delicate issues about themselves that they could not, because of shame, shyness, etc., otherwise disclose.  This opens the door for help and assistance in some cases.

Whistle blowers that reveal dangerous, illegal or unjust situations within corporations and other agencies require anonymity to prevent being punished for revealing the problem

Witnesses to crimes are overwhelmingly afraid of retribution.  Without the guarantee of anonymity, many crimes would go unsolved.

Anonymity frequently fosters honesty.  Many studies have shown that people speak more openly and honestly if they know they will remain anonymous.

These and uncountable other benefits of anonymity are guaranteed by law. The right of individuals to engage in anonymous communication was established in 1999 by the U.S. District court of Northern California.  The court’s opinion was: “People are permitted to interact pseudonymously and anonymously with each other so long as those acts are not in violation of the law. In addition, the law guarantees publishers the right not to disclose the names of the readers or users of a publication.  In 1953, the Supreme Court of the U.S. stated:

Once the government can demand of a publisher the names of the purchasers of his publication, the free press as we know it disappears.  Then the spectre of a government agent will look over the shoulder of everyone who reads.

Does this “spectre” sound familiar to anyone?

The Internet was not designed with the concept of anonymity in mind.  Each and every communication has an IP address attached to it, which uniquely identifies the specific computer, smart phone or mobile device that sent the communication.  At the inception of the Internet, no one dreamed that it would virtually replace every other means of communication and would become the platform upon which society would restructure itself.  It is a major flaw that has never been sufficiently resolved.  Attempts to correct this massive flaw have met with disaster.  Napster was sued and had to shut down. Kim Dotcom was invaded by the U.S and fighting extradition. Ross Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison (just to name a few)

Is this what we have come to?  A fearful government, panicked about the criminal elements of society using what they have always used, only now on a more massive scale, choosing to oppress the general law abiding population by removing yet one more freedom that has been guaranteed to us by law?

john mcafee

Well, I am not standing for it.  I am speaking my mind, which, if you look into yourselves deeply enough, I believe you will agree with me.

Why is no one else speaking out?



27 responses to “The Imperative of Anonymity”

  1. P-man Avatar

    Americans are ignorant pathetic sheep – that’s why.

  2. P-man Avatar

    No one speaks out because Americans need a leader – they love having a boss. They are pathetic sheep.

  3. tbfh Avatar

    If you want to remain anonymous, stay out of public squares (like this one).

  4. Snowden Avatar

    where do we start to try and repair our government?

  5. Paper money can make people sick Avatar
    Paper money can make people sick

    And the bitcoin is still legal.

  6. Karl Redmon Avatar
    Karl Redmon

    Tried to leave a message 3 times. Everytime I get to the end it deletes everything you just typed. This is one of the strangest things I heard. The sad part is I belive this one. Besides all the Obvious garbage that went on no matter what you think or what to do there’s nothing you or I can do about that type of stuff it happens and you just have to deal with it. Like the other day someone was asking me why do people lie they shouldn’t do that anyways probably one of the easiest things are ever had the answer because simply enough why do you care why other people lie. I heard it answered one way in one of the best training CDs I had ever heard by the famous Jim Rohn where he said don’t worry about things like that how he put it was I don’t sign up for that class the sun comes up the sun goes down that’s just what happens don’t sign up for the class to explain why the sun comes up and the sun goes down. What we can do is control our own actions and statements to show that we don’t agree with stuff like this and we need to disagree in public if you don’t agree with it you have to say something once one person starts talking at other people will start to wake me up how do you think clouds are formed he’s just a little bit hard on the internet because people try to hide who they are in so nobody takes it serious I have no problem leaving my name in email here if you don’t like my opinion don’t read it nobody forces you to read what I write. As far as him getting life to get back to the real story I’m sure there’s more to the story that we didn’t hear but that’s crazy if all he did was make up the program sure a program like that I can see where criminals would like it because they can hide things that they do but in the same sentence I’m sure the government has a way where can find a way see who is sending messages and doing things there let them. Can you see them doing things that are illegal arrest them go after that person show them just because they don’t have to put their name on the bottom of their messages or the bottom of what they do if they’re doing something illegal or planning to do something illegal they still have to pay for it. I’m surprised I think the police or the government would like a site like that I think the problem was he made this site so well they couldn’t figure out how to break into it and get information.

  7. cam m Avatar
    cam m

    Well, he wasnt only popped for the site. The reason he got caught is because he hired a hitman to kill someone who was trying to blackmail him

  8. Operation Mockingbird Avatar
    Operation Mockingbird

    Basically I’m saying that they’re allowed to be anonymous, and allowed to have security, true security; but no not us hard working and honest folks that just want to live a good life with our families and see our children prosper!!

  9. Operation Mockingbird Avatar
    Operation Mockingbird

    The shadow government is really the ones who are in control, not the Rothschilds, just because they own money doesn’t mean shit, gold… Smh same thing! All the money and sound money like gold, can’t stop our critical thinking and ideas, but the shadow government are really the eugenics people and also people high up in the NSA and the U.N. along with ppl like Bill Gates, and if there truely was a single family that ruled the world, you definitely wouldn’t know their fucking name!

  10. W Avatar

    Eric Athur Blair knews abouth the truth which comes foot per foot hidden trough the backdoor in our society.
    76 Years ago!
    Horrible how precisely he described.

    Fear eats your mind and make it possible.

    speak it out loud every day and tu everywhere….

    it comes the time the critical mass is achieved to change this system.

    We are many, we are not alone!

    W from Germany

  11. Anonymous Source Avatar
    Anonymous Source

    It is bizarre to read this only 8 hours after watching “Nothing but the Truth.” I understand concern for National Security, but we should take a hard look at the quality of life in the nation we want secure. Speaking of the Supreme Court’s opinion regarding a free press as well as anonymity, reporters SHOULD NEVER be compelled to reveal a source!

  12. Assumed Name Avatar
    Assumed Name

    They may very well be a sado – maniacs who are after wrong people, those prosecutors and judges – we do not know what is on their mind. The obvious is, however, the decision is outrageous and judge should be preventing from judging and should be judged himself.

    Judges should instead concentrating on the overpowering white color crime committed by the crawling rich.

  13. Assumed Name Avatar
    Assumed Name

    Valid visualization. Do not ask them questions. Let them vent it all out all that bitterness accumulated over the years.

  14. Assumed Name Avatar
    Assumed Name

    No, Donna you are crazy for two reason. First, your are crazy because you are not capable of understanding and appreciating the deepness of the author thinking. Second, you are crazy because you have impudence to open up your mouth and start saying crazy absurd about good people.

  15. nopriv Avatar

    This guy gets LIFE, but Jonathan Pollard gets PAROLE for Selling U.S. MILITARY SECRETS to other COUNTRIES!!??

    Would this happen if Ulbricht were Jewish, as is Pollard? Hmmm….

  16. John Avatar

    The reason few others with inclined minds are speaking out is due to the cognitive dissonance broadcast by the mainstream media on behalf of the US government that says: “Keep your mouth shut and play along, and you’ll be fine.” That used to be true, but not anymore. If projects like ProxyHam had been released anonymously, they may have had a better chance at general release. This is why if I ever come up with something that is a seriously disruptive technology (in all my hope one that would be disruptive to the surveillance state here and abroad), I develop at least three implementations, and turn right around and give it away under a psuedonym. Old school, I know; but necessary. If I come up with something THAT good in times like these, I’m not going to choose fame and recognition.. I’m going to choose anonymity and make it open-source (community-property). That way, I get the help from the community AND get to put my idea out there and improve the social condition. THAT is what these disruptive ideas should be about. We are living in rather dangerous times. Dangerous to the point where things that defeat technologies and systems meant for social control are regarded as virtual “heresy” by the authorities. It would behoove anyone working on R&D for any kind of disruptive ideas or technologies to implement the kind of compartmentalization and security semantics necessary to protect both yourself and your invention.

    You can’t fight ideas with bullets.

  17. Tiffany Avatar

    It’s all a matter of control. The idiots that We (the People) put in charge of governing our country are making their own rules, breaking the same laws, getting paid tax dollars to do so, and the majority of people walk around with blinders on. WTF? I am so sick of this bullshit! We (the People) need to wake up, find our backbone, pull our heads out and say ENOUGH! Our Founding Fathers did! Before it’s to late, before we sign away our freedom totally, before we end up enslaved with no liberties by our own government! Sad part about it, I don’t know how.

  18. Donna H Avatar
    Donna H

    OMG, after reading your blog, I’ve come to realize you really are crazy as hell…

  19. Ryan Avatar

    Funny comment Flashcat:

    Federal prosecutors sent a 16-page letter to judge Forrest for “a lengthy sentence, one substantially above the mandatory minimum,” to “send a clear message” to others..

    “The Court has an opportunity to send a clear message to anyone tempted to follow his example that the operation of these illegal enterprises comes with severe consequences.”

    So, I dare ask, when are “Federal prosecutors” going to round up all the bankers that have essentially stolen BILLIONS from the pockets of EVERYONE?! When are they going to send a ‘clear message’ to them? Perhaps, when they stop accepting stfu funds? Yeah.

  20. ed Avatar

    welcome to the united states of america …..where the police is killing everybody they dont like….where the people have no privacy….no freedom of speech and no rights anymore!!! is this ”the change” Obama was talking about?

  21. Aryeh Goretsky Avatar


    That is an interesting photo. Duct tape over mouth and in the basement, correct?


    Aryeh Goretsky

  22. FlashCat Avatar

    Check this news today! (UNBELIEVABLE!) — “Criminal Charges Against Agents Reveal Staggering Corruption in the Silk Road Investigation”

  23. generaliethis Avatar

    Thankfully the Monero project is working on this and will continue to be ahead of the curve on creating a fungible and unlinkable ecash.

  24. Chris Avatar

    Why is it that in order to comment on an article about anonymity, I must give out my name and email address?

    In any case, the reason is control. The government can’t control am anonymous populace. The excuse that it is about crime is simply their cover story.

    Just like every other aspect of society… there are bad people that do bad things, so you must give up your liberty so Big Brother cam better protect you.

  25. AnonymousCoin Avatar
  26. John Connor Avatar
    John Connor

    I agree with all that you said and It is absolutely ludicrous that he was put away for this. I can understand putting away the drug dealers and traffickers of the site but not the maker.

    Why dont they charge pubs when people get caught DIY on the road ?

    I think this will even strengthen peoples bonds on anon.

    Also you want anon but your website requires names and emails ! 🙂

  27. FlashCat Avatar

    Federal prosecutors sent a 16-page letter to judge Forrest for “a lengthy sentence, one substantially above the mandatory minimum,” to “send a clear message” to others..

    “The Court has an opportunity to send a clear message to anyone tempted to follow his example that the operation of these illegal enterprises comes with severe consequences.”

    When does it become right or legal to “set examples of people”!?!? That forces a conviction partly determined on timing, and immeasurable, unpredictable bias!! That act by prosecutors should be illegal, and a reflection on the overextension of their power. Perhaps they are eager to cover up the illegal search and seizure of data!