Anonymity and its Enmities
1 Journal of Online Law art. 4 (1995)
15 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2016
Date Written: 1995
Professor Froomkin explains the mechanics of how "anonymity" is effected for communication over the Internet and then analyzes the legal status of attempts to ban anonymity. Through a combination of public-key encryption and special "anonymous remailer" computers, messages can be sent over the net with a high degree of certainty that they cannot be traced to their originator. These techniques also make possible the creation of "pseudonymous" personalities that can both send and receive messages, with the originator's true identity concealed. The Supreme Court in the McIntyre case recently struck down state prohibitions on the use of anonymity in the context of political leaflets. But such state laws have generally been very broadly drawn, and have been applied to political speech. The possibility remains that a narrowly drawn statute banning anonymous political speech, or one directed to non-political speech, might nevertheless be upheld.
Keywords: anonymity, encryption, cryptography, political speech, Internet law, cyberlaw
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