Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ruling in P2P Case a Victory for Online Anonymity

Anyone remember the story that broke a while back about the innocent people raided by the FBI for child pornography downloaded by their neighbors? The angle of these stories was that for the people whose homes were invaded, families traumatized, computers confiscated by the feds, it was their own damn fault for failing to lock down their personal wireless networks, nevermind the blundering feds or the actual criminals.

What these people were blamed for, essentially, is failing to adhere to the doctrine that a persons digital identity should be unwaveringly tied to their personal identity. As these articles implied, failing to accept and defend this doctrine makes you stupid and a fair target for the wrath of organizations making the totally reasonable assumption that you are your IP address. This isn't at all the obvious conclusion a reasonable person would draw from the facts of these cases, and it seems pretty clear to me that the much-repeated 'lesson' of these incidents cited in various pieces covering it was merely anti-anonymity scare mongering by the government engineers of the original press release.

In a recent legal ruling, it was determined that a person can not, under the US legal system, be identified in this way. It's a good sign for the cause of open wireless, p2p, and online anonymity, and hopefully one of many steps in the right direction to come.


  1. Honestly, this kind of law will never be effectively enforceable. First off it encroaches on far too many civil rights. Shouldn't ever get off the ground the way they have approached it.

  2. Hopefully the folk in charge will make the common sense decision!

  3. good read! i bet they use banjos

  4. I actually prefer to leave my Wifi network open. Never have had a problem with sharing before. ;)