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Taking the Mystery Out of Web Anonymity


Web identity/anonymity

Jonathon Rosen

The Obama Administration is trying to fix the Internet’s dog problem.

The problem, as depicted in Peter Steiner’s legendary 1993 New Yorker cartoon, is that on the Internet nobody knows you’re a dog. And thus the enduring conundrum over who can be trusted in cyberspace.

The Internet affords anonymity to its users--a boon to privacy and freedom of speech. But that very anonymity is also behind the explosion of cybercrime that has swept across the Web.

Can privacy be preserved while bringing a semblance of safety and security to a world that seems increasingly lawless?

Last month, Howard Schmidt, the nation’s cyberczar, offered the Obama administration’s proposal to make the Web a safer place--a “voluntary trusted identity” system that would be the high-tech equivalent of a physical key, a fingerprint and a photo ID card, all rolled into one. The system might use a smart identity card, or a digital credential linked to a specific computer, and would authenticate users at a range of online services.

From The New York Times
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