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French blogger & philosopher Philippe Lemoine has a Twitter thread arguing for using real names online, which has excited some vigorous discussions and counter-arguments:

My own two cents are that both approaches are fine, depending on personal circumstances.

I don’t regret “self-doxing” a few months after I started blogging in January 2008. I’m fine with that, though I acknowledge that if I’d remained in the US, I might well have had big problems by now. (Though OTOH I probably would have had problems regardless; were I in academia or the corporate sector, I just do not think I would have had the restraint to keep my mouth shut on the BLM cult, etc). Besides, when you get to a certain level of prominence in punditry, keeping the two lives entirely separate becomes very hard and de-anonymization converges to inevitability (as even Scott Alexander may soon regrettably find out).

There’s a couple more considerations which I haven’t seen made much.

(1) In many European cultures, even woke ones like Sweden, it is still taboo to make family political differences public (at least according to commenter Swedish Family). This is expressly not the case in the Anglosphere, where there are many cases of daughters denouncing fathers, and parents, sons – and being celebrated for it. So I think the potential costs of self-doxing in Europe are lower than in the country founded by Puritans.

Though of course it’s hard to see into the future, especially sociologically. I hope that events in the West scare off Russians in a “reactionary” direction (much like how Europeans and Americans themselves became much more anti-Communist in the wake of the Russian Revolution). But these hopes may be misfounded, and perhaps SJWism and Cultural Marxism will triumph in Russia as well in a decade or two. In which case I’ll be screwed either which way.

(2) The Arrow of Technology is such that privacy will become impossible in principle within just a few more years, thanks to the combo of proliferating textual and photographic data across the Web + data scraping + machine learning/facial recognition. This isn’t one of those hypothetical “futurism” things, it’s a mature, ready to use technology (e.g. see my post on Clearview AI) that is already being adopted by police forces across the country. It is only a matter of time before analogous “solutions” seep into the corporate world (Woke Capital), or eventually any basement SJW (https://akarlin.com/ratwiki/).

As usual, the central problem is one of power, and who gets to wield it.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Blogging, Privacy 
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  1. Please keep off topic posts to the current Open Thread.

    If you are new to my work, start here.

  2. Justin351 says:

    I don’t think it’s impossible to remain anonymous online if you keep a tight ship and don’t blather about your private life on your anon accounts AND if you don’t simultaneously have a big non-anonymous digital footprint. However, this may change if social media companies start to proactively root out all contrarian thinking. For example, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if Twitter started to doxx anonymous users who post heretical ideas. In many cases they would be able to do that with the data they already have and if different tech companies start sharing information on heretical users with each other, it will be trivial. So far, the censorship is surprisingly light–e.g. you can have a big account on Twitter and post crime thoughts all day long and as long as you’re not too obnoxious about it, you’ll probably not get banned. It will get much worse.

    • Replies: @Almost Missouri
  3. Pericles says:

    There is an interesting counter-trend going on at the moment, that tech companies are shutting down their facial recognition services, and that cities forbid the use of facial recognition (San Francisco and, just the other day, Boston; perhaps there are more).

    Personally, I think it would be an interesting experiment to do mandatory facial registration and DNA sampling of all entrants to Sweden, and of course make that database available to police, security services, etc. Lots of migrants and third worlders with unclear backgrounds, if nothing else.

  4. Dmitry says:

    I wrote about this here before. Currently there is a legal “gray zone”, because it benefits governments. At the same time, there would be inevitably a negative public reaction, if they release it to the public.

    In the future, there will be more regulation to increase “privacy” – because it’s a majority and quite universal desire, once a majority public understand the negative implications of what governments currently use for themselves only.

    As I wrote in January:

    Nowadays you could “build your own database in a garage” and run an openly available facial recognition software on it.

    However, it’s becoming more difficult to scrape large quantity of images from certain social media sites before the website notices, and there have also been some scary legal conditions on sites. For example, scraping Facebook, is technically a crime of data theft.

    Moreover, there has been a negative legal and social response to use of facial recognition for identification since at least 2015, so its use will be restricted.

    Google has done this already 10 years ago and then with a lot of media reaction.

    Eventually, they did not release it publicly because there was a negative public reaction. There were changes in EU law, against facial recognition, because of the hype created by the Google Glasses.

    Currently people like Google are self-policing this kind of idea, and especially national security service benefit from this current situation where there is not yet a clear legal opinion on these topics in the countries where they located. In Russia like America, government security service will surely have made these databases and they scrape as much as they can from the internet.

    If someone releases such a product in the public, then there will be negative public reaction and quite soon laws to restrict it, and the legal situation will change to limit this activity.

    All this – scraping stuff and putting into a searchable database – is completely easy and available now. Just like growing a cannabis plant would be easy, but releasing it to the public might have legal consequences. The question is about what will be the public reaction and legal framework which will develop.

    Currently, there is just a legally undefined situation (before the negative reaction comes), and this current situation benefits some interests.

    https://www.unz.com/akarlin/ai-flesh-search-engine/#comment-3668999

    • Replies: @Pericles
  5. Pericles says:
    @Dmitry

    I’m not an FB user but I’ve heard FB could detect your face in other people’s pictures as well. So they would seem to be quite capable too. Not sure if that’s still being used.

    Dark web idea: sell huge collections of peoples’ photos to interested buyers.

    • Replies: @Dmitry
  6. I admire persons of the dissident Right who publish under their real names. (Though Jim of the Blog is interesting and original, I admit that Jim has not persuaded me on this specific point.)

    Unfortunately, I am unwilling myself to publish under my real name.

    Even more unfortunately, I have paid a heavy price despite successfully concealing my real name.

    Anecdote: as recently as the early 1990s, a person who (incorrectly) thought that he needed to find me for business reasons hired a private detective. Couldn’t find me for six months, despite that my name and new address were available in the local telephone directory! Reason: my parents would not answer the detective’s questions, and I had moved within the U.S. across a single state line.

    Those were better days.

    You could walk around in broad daylight a mere 40 miles from your home, and no one would know your name (or care, except to be polite) unless you mentioned the name to them.

    You could have a misdemeanor record in one state and the police in another state would be unaware.

    For gruesome idle amusement, I have wondered how long a future U.S. Gulag arrest list would have to grow before my name would be important enough appear on it. Have you ever wondered? My guess for myself: about 1.5 million names long, but who knows? Maybe 10 million; maybe 100,000. I hope that I never find out.

  7. @Justin351

    Agree. We have been in a state of de facto moral armistice for so long, at least in the West, that we don’t realize open and guaranteed access to crucial infrastructure need not be this way. For as long as anyone alive today remembers, postal mail, electricity, roads, and telephone service have always been openly available to everyone irrespective of political affiliation. But now new networked means of production have developed and it has dawned on these new industrial barons, and is dawning on everyone else, that they need not provide service to everyone equitably. They can pick and choose to their heart’s content who will have access to the advantages of their networks. And their hearts contend that they do so.

    Even worse, legacy networks like banking and finance, who long observed a gentleman’s agreement of more or less equitable access, have realized that technically, they too don’t have to process your credit card transaction or whatever any more than Twitter has to broadcast your tweet. And then, sensing the general lax enforcement of the access guarantees that do exist, Antifa-type organizations are realizing they can block roads and deliveries more or less with impunity.

    A substantial part of the era of civil conflict we are entering into will be fought over access to infrastructure networks. If they wanted to head off some of that conflict, enlightened governments could legally mandate access to all, as generally already exists, for e.g. mail and phone, and they could enforce the access that is supposed to exist, as with e.g. roads and free speech, but our current governments are very unenlightened, and even were that to change, the deniers of access and the governments usually share the same prejudices, so there is no reason to expect relief.

    • Thanks: V. K. Ovelund
  8. Given that orthodoxy today is now somewhat left of centre and heresy is anything to the right of that, the only sane move is to stay anonymous or stay silent.

    • Replies: @V. K. Ovelund
  9. @Pericles

    it would be an interesting experiment to do mandatory facial registration and DNA sampling of all entrants to Sweden, and of course make that database available to police, security services, etc.

    It would be more than an “interesting experiment”, it would be absolutely mandatory for a responsible government. When dubious foreigners are crossing your border almost at will, the minimum a responsible government would do is to keep track of who the hell is coming in.

    Indeed, it might be possible to arrive at a sort of anti-Golden Rule of successful border and foreign policy by starting from P.J. O’Rourke’s offhand yet profound observation that,

    Whatever it is that the government does, sensible Americans would prefer that the government does it to somebody else. This is the idea behind foreign policy.”

    A responsible national government should aim for maximum freedom for its own citizens and maximum restriction of others. Our current governments do more or less the opposite.

  10. @The Alarmist

    Unfortunately, it is no longer clear that mere silence suffices to protect the silent.

  11. Dox Jews as the supremacist masters of the West.

    Only then will the game change.

    What are LGBT and BLM but proxy tools of Jewish Power.

    Dox the Lox(or Shylocks).

  12. Dmitry says:
    @Pericles

    Facebook and Google were both buying different Israeli startups for facial recognition around a decade ago (and these are founded by young people immediately after they leave the army – so I assume they base their business plan on the tools that was used already before by governments). Google/Facebook both self-restrict the uses of it to tagging and organization of photos by users.

    It’s obvious that security services in Israel – and other countries – had built databases of photos by scraping the internet, and the facial recognition algorithm were required for organizing the information they scraped from the internet – so they could search for peoples’ identity. This is something likely that governments did in the early 2000s.

    Probably they were just scraping so much from the internet even, before these ways of searching the information were developed.

    Facebook bought the Face,com one
    https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-18506255

    To stop the scraping of their site, Facebook have some various measures now. Until a few a years it was really easy to scrape there. Generally, this is still a bit of “Wild West” legally though.

  13. I don’t think cultural norms in the US can be extrapolated to represent cultural norms in the Anglosphere as a whole. People often talk as if the US and UK are the same entity, but I struggle to think of many things the UK has in common with the US.

    The political system and political culture of the two countries really couldn’t be more different, I mean loud mouth American “attack ads” are non-existent in the UK, and would be considered by most British people to be vulgar. In fact here most would probably be banned for lying. Frankly if “Anglo” means “similar to England”, I don’t find American culture and personality to be very “Anglo” at all. In many ways I find their mentality and things like sense of humour to be the opposite of ours.

    • Replies: @Stuart Margolis
  14. I’m concerned less about myself than my family. I am already half expecting to lose my job and future employment by getting doxxed from Unz.com. However, if they went after my parents or other family, we could all lose everything pretty quickly.

  15. @Europe Europa

    “but I struggle to think of many things the UK has in common with the US.”

    As an English speaking observer who is equally familiar with British and American “culture” I would say that 50 years ago British culture were quite different but now have converged into the same vulgar common denominator. Both educational systems have been debased to the point where the average 20-40 year old white American and Brit are almost functionally illiterate, vulgar, naive, incapable of critical thought and easily manipulated. A similar trend can be seen in other English speaking countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

  16. There is a proposal being made to the European Commission that there be two internet categories regarding anonymity

    The ‘protected anonymity’ should be those of blogs, forums, comment sections etc, where EU privacy regulations should be maintained and enhanced

    But the other ‘anonymity’, the really evil one, which should be banned, is that of the fake internet ‘reference works’, ‘encyclopaedias’ or any kind of alleged ‘-pedias’, ‘fact-checking’ sites etc

    In the latter case – especially with Wikipedia – the intelligence agency and tech oligarch goons who run those sites, hide behind anonymity to abuse their victims in what is a totally unfair, monopolistic relationship, with the average web user duped into trusting a site because it has the label of ‘encyclopaedia’, ‘fact-checker’, ‘reference’ site, etc.

    EU authorities see how top Wiki admins send hate mail to EU citizens, gloating over how EU people are helpless to respond to Wiki-lies, with Wikipedia’s propaganda being copied and multiplied dozens of times all over search results

    The CIA-Mossad Wikipedia, run by ex-pornography-seller Jimmy Wales, personally funded by Tel Aviv and going to Israeli President birthday parties, his site one where criminals with political connections, including paedophiles, have been able to run fake biographies of themselves, and use the site to libel victims they threatened to murder etc … Wikimedia pretending ‘nobody is home’ and ‘no one at Wiki is responsible’ even tho its admins directly approved libellous material

    EU police and prosecutor report on crimes of Wikipedia with Google, Wikimedia fundraising fraud, and the ’20 Major Techniques of Wikipedia Deception’
    http://pastebin.com/BeppgiMJ

    The world would be a better place if every Wikipedia page was signed by a real-name individual, personally, civilly and criminally liable for whatever smears of targets and victims are written on that page

    It is proposed that any reference work, encyclopaedia, fact-checking site or similar
    (1) Be pushed down in the search results to search position #26 or lower, if its pages are not signed by real-name-individuals whose identities are verified
    (2) That a real EU person always be able to have her / his own website listed in search results within the EU, ahead of any site writing about him or her
    (3) That search results linking to anonymous alleged ‘reference’ category sites, be accompanied with a warning that information on the site is unreliable due to anonymity cover
    (4) That any victim of falsehood by an anonymous ‘encyclopedia’ or ‘reference’ etc site, have a right to the publication of a correction / retraction on that same site, for as long a period as the lie or smear was published
    (5) That Wikipedia itself be forced to carry a permanent label at the top of every Wiki page, naming it as a site with links to intelligence agencies, and having often presented false information, sometimes involved in criminal acts against EU citizens

    One of the ironies of the SJW wokesters doxxing people, is that a great part of the internet tech gangsters supporting them, uses anonymity for its most pernicious and pervasive projects

  17. Realist says:
    @Pericles

    There is an interesting counter-trend going on at the moment, that tech companies are shutting down their facial recognition services, and that cities forbid the use of facial recognition (San Francisco and, just the other day, Boston; perhaps there are more).

    I am sure that if that happens it will apply to POC only.

  18. In many European cultures, even woke ones like Sweden, it is still taboo to make family political differences public (at least according to commenter Swedish Family). This is expressly not the case in the Anglosphere, where there are many cases of daughters denouncing fathers, and parents, sons – and being celebrated for it. So I think the potential costs of self-doxing in Europe are lower than in the country founded by Puritans.

    I worded it poorly in the original post.

    Political differences can be expressed in public if the situation calls for it (e.g. if both family members are well known to the public), but full-on denouncement is rare and directed at the opinion rather than the person. “It’s not you I hate, but your views,” as social workers in Sweden tell skinheads.

    Family members are also not expected to comment on what their kin are up to. The brother of a well-known Sweden Democrat works at a big multinational corporation, and I’ve been told that his co-workers have never asked him about his famous brother or — obviously — what he thinks of his brother’s politics.

  19. Denis says:
    @Pericles

    What companies and governments publically state and what they secretly do may be quite different. After all, the breadth and scope of NSA surveillance would not have been believed by anyone until just a few years ago.

  20. Garlic says:

    There’s now an online petition to the NYT not to dox Scott Alexander:

    https://www.dontdoxscottalexander.com/

    A few prominent names on it, but it would be good to see some more.

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