Anonymity and the Net

2 Aug ’05

There’s been a slew of stories recently concerning anonymity and the ‘net. In May I blogged Ethan Zuckerman’s guide to blogging anonymously.

Earlier today I blogged recent developments in P2P technology that would allow anonymous file-sharing.

Yesterday the New York Times published an article describing efforts the paper and other media outlets are making to use technology to protect the identities of sources who wish to remain anonymous – this in the aftermath of the jailing of NYT reporter Judith Miller for failing to disclose the identity of an anonymous source in the Valerie Plame case. Gist:

Time Inc. is looking at new guidelines for reporters on how to avoid identifying sources in notes and e-mail messages, such as using initials or a code name instead of the source’s real name.

Time executives have also asked their technology department to explore various options, including the possible development of a special portable hard drive that would let reporters remove all their notes from a company computer. That way, the company could say that it did not have access to such notes.

Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, whose reporter Judith Miller is in jail for refusing to testify to the grand jury in the C.I.A. case, said he wanted to develop “new guidelines to minimize the potential exposure of confidential source material.” He said the guidelines would include some practices used by investigative reporters who have experience with confidential sources.

Mr. Keller said he expected to issue such guidelines “within the next few weeks, after consulting with tech folks and the lawyers,” and that the results would be incorporated in orientation and training programs.

The Times is also looking into ways of bundling office telephone extensions so that calls to and from particular reporters cannot be identified.

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