Anonymity is a right, being anonymous is a choice

Most of the times when I talk about privacy, people think I’m talking about the reasons of being anonymous. However, what I talk about is the right of being anonymous. There’s a difference between being anonymous and having the right of it.

Let me give you an example real quick. The difference between between being anonymous completely and having the right of being anonymous is talking about free speech and having the right to speak freely.

You may not have anything to say but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have the right to speak. Privacy is like that. You may not want to be very strict on your privacy but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be in control.

Every human being has a safe haven. A person can decide whether or not to allow people into the circle. This is where we talk about privacy and anonymity. Privacy is a right but we can’t force anybody to be anonymous.

Let me give you an example. Every human being has a right to eat; but we can’t tell people what to eat. People have their own privacy rights. They can respect it or not. It’s their call. Only thing we can do is to teach them.

You can participate in social networks, publish your photo or even share your phone number to the public. It’s your choice and it isn’t even a violation of your privacy as you’re willingly doing it.

What a privacy-violation would be is that you being forced to share your private data. If you know what information you’re sharing and you’re not forced to share or use a software/service, then you’re all good.

Anonymity and Civility

Your Information and Data

What I always say is that people should be owner of their own information. This means that it’s people that should be in control. Giving people right to choose between sharing their data or not using the service at all is not good.

People should be able to use the service they purchase and own it. If you pay for something, you should be owner of it. Even if you’re renting a software or service, you should be the owner of it while you’re paying for it.

It’s not acceptable that people are paying for something and while they use the software/service they payed for, their privacy is still violated. I don’t mean that if you use a free (as in free beer) software/service, the provider has the right to violate your privacy. What I mean is that people should be able to control the software/service.

Your Choice

I believe we should let people choose. Current system of letting people know of the privacy situation of a service/software is not useful or efficient. Nobody reads the long privacy policies and terms of uses. People just hit accept and companies abuse their privacy and mistreat users.

I think the best way to respect people’s privacy is to explain how your software/service works and the best way to do it is to free (as in freedom) your code and make it free software.

Published by

Avatar photo

Ali Reza Hayati

Entrepreneur, hacker, cypherpunk.