When Anonymous Prevents Private Exchange

I’ve decided that I don’t like the group loose configuration of hackers who call themselves “Anonymous.”  Sure, messing around with the Scientologists is funny– they are just so easy to taunt and really, really can’t take a joke– but I feel like “Anonymous” confuses transparency with partisan taunting.

Man, here I am apologizing to Sarah f-cking Palin again.

See, this is why I don’t think “Anonymous” did any good by leaking the contents of Palin’s multiple Yahoo accounts.  The problem with their tactic is that the story is going to be about how Sarah Palin’s privacy was invaded, she was the victim of a crime, and the oh-so liberal Internet users don’t know how to let people they disagree with alone.  This is a shame because I think, actually, that “Anonymous” uncovered an important story here.

For one thing, our government uses Yahoo! email accounts?  Seriously.  I think I’d like to see just a teensy bit more concern with data security than keeping state secrets on servers owned by a private company who, depending on who you ask, engages in questionable privacy practices.

More important than my own distrust for the privacy of online communications via Google or Yahoo, however, is the notion that the ease of setting up e-mail accounts has made it easier than ever to circumvent the public records requirements.  Last week’s “On the Media” actually did a great story on a very similar problem in the Cheney administration.  This isn’t to say that I think Palin’s use of a Yahoo account and Cheney’s long-standing antagonisim to FOIA and other mechanisms of transparency is equivalent.  It is to say that we (well, our archivists) need to figure out an answer to this problem sooner rather than later.

The problem with “Anonymous’ ” actions is that now everyone who doesn’t support Sarah Palin’s policies or governing style is now put in a position where they (I) have to defend her right to assume some degree of privacy and condemning the behavior of a few show-offs while simultaneously thanking “Anonymous” for highlighting her disregard for record-keeping laws.  This is an incredibly difficult position to argue from and requires more nuance than I feel like many people can succesfully pull off– I certainly have struggled with how to do this over the past 24 hours.

I don’t think the Internet is “too liberal.”  I do think, though, that we have got to figure out ways to share the negative information about candidates without looking like, as my dad used to say, “pigs in sh-t.”

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Filed under 2008 Election, Sarah Palin, Scandal

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