Thursday, February 26, 2009

Anonymous Blogging

If a particular country's laws (e.g. your country of citizenship or residence) are restrictive of your freedom of expression, and if you do not have the time or inclination to convince millions of your fellow citizens to vote out those laws, may I suggest that ... you should blog anonymously.

This is in the context of a recent Supreme Court (of India) ruling holding a criminal petition of libel against a 19-year old blogger as valid. More details can be found here, here and here.

The following links will provide you with a guide map:

Anonymous Blogging Guide, Part I
Anonymous Blogging Guide, Part II


Anonymous said...

But you yourself blog openly, and talk about issues that may be considered controversial and morally reprehensible by the Indian authorities, like say your article on Sikhism: so are you planning to blog anonymously in the future?

Harmanjit Singh said...

I take care to not say unverifiable stuff about anyone or any institution. I generally try to be factual in my reports, and civilized in my opinions.

But still, I think there is a risk. However, I welcome the risk since it will have the unintended consequence of making my blog visible. :-)

As for anonymous blogging, how do you propose I tell the readers of this blog to go read THAT blog instead of THIS one, and still remain anonymous, eh? :-)

Dhananjay Nene said...

Transparent (as opposed to anonymous) blogging keeps me honest, ensures that my posts reflect me and my character, and in general improves the credibility of the post. Information dissemination has some element of power associated and the transparency helps ensure I stay responsible and accountable.

At least in the Indian context, I don't ever look at any anonymous blogs with any degree of credibility. Simply because it is virtually impossible to evaluate it. However there could be countries (not India IMO) where it makes sense.

Harmanjit Singh said...

Hi Dhananjay,

Your thoughts are well-put, non-anonymous blogs are certainly more credible and keep one "accountable".

But may I ask: to whom is one accountable or responsible?

If one is to say something which will be offensive because it is heretical (and not because it is uncivil), do you think accountability and responsibility (to not offend, obviously) are important values in that case?

And you perhaps assume that one's civility will not get one into trouble. Whereas in India, for mere publicity reasons, any small outfit can file a criminal complaint against your blog for hurting its sentiments.

Dhananjay Nene said...

Accountability begins with accountability to self (which is not particularly relevant in this case), then to those impacted by your expression in a clear and direct manner and finally to the society at large.

I think some issues about Indian legal system do get overblown. eg. see the third last paragraph in this post : Hosts liable only for own content on Net

But all this is perhaps less relevant. I blog transparently because thats how I would feel comfortable with myself.

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