Pooling Intellecutal Capital: Thoughts on Anonymity, Pseudonymity, and Limited Liability in Cyberspace
David G. Post
OTI/New America Foundation
University of Chicago Legal Forum, p. 139, 1996
The distinction between anonymous and pseudonymous communications is a subtle one, depending both on message context, traceability, and the state of both the law and the relevant technology regarding identification. They serve very different purposes within the matrix of social communication. Regulation of anonymity may have effects on the ability of individuals to pool their efforts together. The regulation of anonymous communication is inextricably linked to the regulation of pseudonymous communication; the latter, in turn, is inextricably linked to the regulation of the kind of 'legal persons' the law will recognize, the kinds of collective entities that can speak 'with one name.' Pseudonymity is a way of achieving a kind of limited liability for individuals engaged in collective communications activities. Pseudonymity involves its own unique set of benefits, including the potential to allow for the accumulation of reputational capital. Our understanding of the costs and benefits of regulation of anonymous communications must take these into account.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 32
Keywords: anonymity, pseudonymity, internet regulation, limited liability
JEL Classification: K10, K22
Date posted: November 9, 2006
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