Privacy and Anonymity


The ability of individuals and groups to determine for themselves when, how and to what extent information about themselves is shared with others. At its extreme, privacy becomes anonymity, which might be called for in some contexts but is dangerous in others. For example, discussion of a delicate subject might require anonymity, or at least privacy. On the other hand, anonymity could also conceal the perpetrators of criminal, terrorist or computer hacking acts.



The quality or state of being anonymous

Privacy, anonymity and security in the digital world depend on encryption.
Banks, brokers and other financial organizations transfer billions of dollars electronically every day. Doctors regularly send confidential patient records from labs to hospitals and insurance companies. And human rights workers around the globe want to protect their information sources from harassment and retaliation.
Encryption techniques scramble sensitive information so that it can only be read with a key code - a passkey that unlocks the scrambled electronic data. Encryption techniques can also be used to create unique "digital signatures" that verify the real identity of the sender and are at heart of secure electronic commerce.
Just as you wouldn't give the President your automatic bank card's PIN code, you wouldn't want the government to snoop on your stored information or communications. Yet the President is pushing for a key recovery system that requires encryption users to deposit their key codes with "key recovery agents." The agents would then be required to turn the codes over to the government under a wide range of circumstances and without your knowledge.