The price of pseudonymity

Paul Bernal and Lawrence Serewicz both left such thought-provoking comments on my previous post that I thought it worth a quick follow-up blog, just to keep the topic ‘live’ for a little longer.

Paul pointed out the balance between the benefits that can come from allowing anonymity/pseudonymity, and the harm that can result from making both impossible. Lawrence examined some of the many broader implications that can have for the relationship between the individual and the state. 

Language is a delicate thing, and it occurred to me that politicians will often draw a very sharp line between something which they are prepared to say, and something almost identical which they are not. For instance, I’m pretty sure I have heard a politician say something along these lines:

“A certain level of anti-social activity online is the price we pay for living in a free society”

But I can’t remember ever having heard the following:

“A certain level of anti-social activity online is the price we pay for living in a free society, and it’s a price worth paying”

Politically, it seems to be unacceptable to acknowledge that any level of bad behaviour (or crime, come to that) is a price worth paying for the social benefit of not living in a police state… and yet no-one could plausibly say it’s not the case.

I wonder why that is?

 

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