Lords want end to online anonymity

house of lordsThe British House of Lords is gearing up for a campaign to remove online anonymity.

The Communications Committee of the House of Lords has now issued a report concerning “social media and criminal offenses” in which they basically recommend scrapping anonymity online.

What it wants is for web services to be required to collect real names at signup, but then could allow those users to do things pseudonymously or anonymously.

It means that their actions could then easily be traced back to a real person if the “powers that be” deemed it necessary.

The Lord’s report said it would be reasonable to require the operators of websites first to establish the identity of people opening accounts.

However it is also reasonable to allow people thereafter to use websites using pseudonyms or anonymously.

“There is little point in criminalising certain behaviour and at the same time legitimately making that same behaviour impossible to detect,” the Lord’s report said.

The report notes that the findings are “tentative” and that these recommendations might possibly “be an undesirably chilling step towards tyranny.” but they do not seem that concerned about it, or they would not have made the general recommendation in the first place.

If the scheme goes ahead it will mean that most people will be anonymous, but armed with a court order, or a warrant, the authorities, or libel lawyers can find out who you are.