Thursday, March 29, 2007

Kathy Sierra and Anonymity

Most of you would have heard about Kathy Sierra by now. If not, then I urge you to check out her blog entry where she wrote about receiving death threats and demeaning comments from various unknown persons. Some of said comments were posted on her site and some on other sites that may or may no longer exists. My best wishes to her and hope that she will make the decision to carry on blogging and presenting. I don't pretend to know what was going on with some of the folks that Kathy had mentioned (e.g Rageboy) and their opinions of Kathy but it seems that a small group of them have playfully picked on each other as is evident by this comment made by Kathy herself. Someone crossed the line from being funny to being a sicko. Obviously it opened up a can of worms with several journalists looking to explore and expand on the story. I attended a security and privacy conference a few years back where one of the keynote speakers was a lady, Joelle Ligon, who was cyber-stalked by her ex-boyfriend. It took a lot of hard work and perservence including a District Attorney who is sympathetic and committed to follow through to get cyber-stalking charges and conviction against the guy in question. All it took was a number of years and changes to existing laws to include cyber-stalking, online harrassment, etc. to get it all done.

Being anonymous on the Internet is not easy but it is also not terribly difficult if one choses to be truly anonymous. There is also the ability to deny and unless you are caught red-handed, it is pausible that your IP address was hijacked for such purposes. It all boils down to whether the authorities are willing to jump through hoops to track the predators as it will most likely involved authorities from various places including countries that might not have any corresponding criminal laws on such activities. This is one of the key reasons why spammers can continue to operate.

Obviously there are various folks who would claimed that this is why anonymity is not a good thing and that folks wanting to use the Internet should be registered and known. I would beg to differ and point out that Kathy Sierra is even more worried now that her personal information were posted. Anonymity is a double-edged sword and with the good comes the bad and it is how we react to the bad that will determine whether the good will win out in the end. If we stand up for what we believe in and not give in to the few who strived to turn a good thing bad, we will prevail.

I am hoping that the whole mess will eventually be resolved and that we find out who the true culprits.

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