The Autumn issue of Index on Censorship explores anonymity from pen names to online privacy. This is what they say about the issue:
Anonymity is out of fashion. There are plenty of critics who want it banned on social media. It’s part of a harmful armoury of abuse, they argue. Anonymous trolls send vile verbal attacks to anyone who expresses opinions they disagree with.
So why do we need anonymity? Why does it matter? Why don’t we just ban it or make it illegal if it can be used for all these harmful purposes?
“Anonymity is an integral part of our freedom of expression. For many people it is a valuable way of allowing them to speak. It protects from danger, and it allows those who wouldn’t be able to speak or write to get the words out,” Index on Censorship editor Rachael Jolley writes in the magazine.
The autumn 2016 issue special report looks at the pros and cons of masking identities from the perspective of a variety of players, from online trolls to intelligence agencies, whistleblowers, activists, artists, journalists, bloggers and fixers.
• Valerie Plame Wilson writes on the damage done when her cover was blown.
• John Lloyd looks at how terrorist attacks have affected surveillance needs worldwide.
• Ananya Azad explains why he was forced to leave Bangladesh after violent attacks on secular writers.
• Julian Baggini looks at the power of literary aliases through the ages.
• Edward Lucas shares The Economist’s perspective on keeping its writers unnamed.
• John Crace imagines a meeting at Trolls Anonymous.
• Caroline Lees looks at how fixers can be endangered by working with foreign news companies.