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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #292 - Anonymity: Macron attacks freedom of expression (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

Date Wed, 20 Mar 2019 08:28:34 +0200

In recent releases, Emmanuel Macron talked about banning anonymity on the Internet by claiming that it would help fight against harassment. But is it a good method ? Or would it rather limit freedom of expression, and censor minorities ? ---- On January 18, during one of his " big debates ", Emmanuel Macron had said he wanted a " gradual lifting of all anonymity " . After a back-pedaling of Mounir Mahjoubi, the secretary of state in charge of digital who was trying to clarify the position of the president (who would have liked to limit this anonymity only for participatory democracy), Patatras: Emmanuel Macron put a layer on February 7, going further: " I do not want anonymity on internet platforms anymore " [1]If, at this stage (as in the case of state neutrality for newspapers), the presidential project still looks rough, this did not prevent a majority MP and spokesperson from On the Move, Laetita Avia, to take advantage of the release of the word of victims against the harassment in the affair of the " League of lol " to put on twitter: " The anonymity on social networks encourages a feeling of impunity for those who allow to harass, humiliate and insult. The law against hate on the internet will better raise this anonymity when these crimes are committed " . What does it matter, that in this case, the stalkers have, for the most part, not at all anonymous.

Anonymity, a real problem ?
It is, moreover, a rather recurrent element in a number of cases of harassment, homophobic, racist, misogynist, transphobic, anti-Semitic, etc.: It's not so much anonymity that frees up speech as, no offense to those who constantly talk about " well-being " And complain that they can no longer say anything, homophobia, racism, misogyny, transphobia and anti-Semitism, which unfortunately remain rather uninhibited. In fact, anonymity is very often relative: many people on Facebook use their name of civil status, which does not prevent them from harassing or insulting. Even when there is a use of a pseudonym, anonymity is often relative: in some cases, we know very well who the person is (which is especially true when it comes to colleagues, acquaintances , family members, etc.), and even when this is not the case, most sites have the means to identify the person in case of prosecution (IP address, mail, not to mention the fact that these platforms are increasingly insisting that they be provided with a phone number). If the possibilities of surfing anonymously on the Internet exist (with Tor, for example), the platforms like Facebook or Twitter do everything to discourage their use and to have the maximum of data on their users. Not for the sake of transparency or to limit harassment, but because they are theirbusiness model : have the most information about their users, even if it is questionable.

What is certain, however, is that the use of a pseudonym is a real opportunity for part of the population, who does not necessarily want his parents, colleagues, his current or future employer or even her friends are aware of everything she can tell on Facebook, Twitter, forum or blogs. And it's not so much to harass as to avoid harassment, homophobia, etc. A young homosexual may have more difficulty speaking about his questions or finding support via the Internet if he knows that his parents or classmates may fall on it and identify him. It's even worse for trans people, especially because an important part of any transitional journey is often to choose a new name, which initially is not recognized by the state. In fact, the policy of "real name " imposed by Facebook has mainly allowed the harassment of many trans people who did not have official documents in their first name to show the police Facebook. On the issue of sexism too, in a number of very masculine areas, women prefer to have a neutral or masculine pseudonym to avoid sexist harassment, harrowing drag, and so on.

I have nothing to hide ...
The use of a pseudonym also makes it possible to have testimonials of a certain number of professions compelled to the reserve or even to secrecy (lawyers for example). Not to mention trades or activities where the use of a pseudonym is widespread: artists, writers, etc. Obviously, the use of a pseudonym can also make it easier for trade unionists or workers in a company to express themselves by limiting the risk of being fired, such as this employee of Amazon dismissed for supporting the vests against the company. [2]

It is therefore not for nothing that doxxing is a fairly common practice among stalkers. It consists of searching for and disclosing information about your private life, such as your name, address, telephone number, etc. This is often the crossing of an additional step in the level of violence, which sometimes led victims to move.

The revelation of identity, a practice of harassment
The lifting of any form of anonymity would be a blessing for all these stalkers: no need to search, it is the government itself that would make available this information (or at least the name of civil status, but from of it, between the directories and other registers it is very often possible to obtain an address or a telephone number) !

It is of course possible that the unfortunate exits of the president and a spokesman of the majority are due to ignorance and incompetence, that it is finally only to misuse the use of Internet and harassment. However, let us not be so confident: the reminders to the teachers, the will of the government to extend the obligation of neutrality, the recent releases of the same president of the republic on the " neutrality " of the press imposed by the State, the passing of a law strongly restricting the right to protest, the law on the secrecy of business all go in the same direction: to restrict the freedom of expression and to reinforce the powers of those who want to muzzle it.

Lise (AL Lyon)

[1] " Macron:" I do not want anonymity on internet platforms " " on Developpez.com .

[2] " An employee of Amazon dismissed for supporting the" yellow vests "against the company " , Le Monde

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