” We want to separate the two worlds [el de Twitter y el real]” explains Eva (not her real name, 48 years old), a user of the platform and a secondary school teacher. Like her, a good number of users defend that anonymity on social networks gives them freedom and a place free from prejudice. Although not a few take refuge under this condition, the spread of false news and systematic harassment have led to the tendency to associate anonymous accounts with malicious use of the networks. With the intention of tackling these negative consequences, the Popular Party, led by Senator Rafael Hernando, has proposed to require the National Identity Document (DNI) when creating an account on a social network, even if afterwards a pseudonym or alias. Eva agrees with the initiative, but other users with an anonymous profile believe that, by accepting this condition, it would be inevitable for them to take better care of the opinions and content they share. So far, at least with regard to Twitter, no country has approved measures of this type.
Hernando began to defend the proposal in 2017. That year he launched, as a deputy in Congress, a non-law proposal that was never processed, and this same year he has resumed the initiative with a proposal of law in the Senate, as advanced in his day The world. “This must be regulated, we are facing a new revolution in technologies and we continue to use legislation from 2002, when almost none of these social networks existed,” he explains to EL PAÍS.
According to the senator, the measure does not intend to end the privacy provided by an alias on the networks, but it does believe that the person behind the nickname must be identified by the company or platform: “ On many occasions it is impossible to reach that identity because companies do not do much to reveal it or to reach the end, ” especially in legal proceedings for cybercrime. However, many users argue that, in these cases, the authorities have all the necessary tools to know who is behind the account and do not need to identify it for more than a short period of time.
For this stream of Internet users, demanding an identity document is unnecessary. The president of the Association of Internet Users, Ofelia Tejerina, agrees with them: ” The right to be able to express oneself anonymously does not mean that the person is not identifiable, a telephone number or name and surnames, so that the user could be traced if necessary in a serious investigation, such as hate crimes. ”
Anonymity on the networks only serves to promote criminal activity.
It is time for the law of the jungle to abandon social networks, and those who harass others, or use anonymity as a source of impunity, can be quickly and effectively prosecuted pic.twitter.com/rJCltIAd6S
– Rafael Hernando (@Rafa_Hernando) November 1, 2021
Tejerina believes that, in addition, “the DNI could be falsified, and the platforms are not going to assume the responsibility of authenticating the document either.” Frances Haugen, the ‘Facebook deep throat, She was also skeptical of this type of measure in her appearance before the European Parliament on 8 November. The European People’s Party, through the MEP Pablo Arias Echevarría, brought the matter to the camera and Haugen defended that, in his opinion, any requirement of identification would constitute a failure, since, for example, all users would have mechanisms available – such as a Red VPN (Virtual Private Network in Spanish) – to get around it.
Even so, Hernando believes that regulation should not be avoided for this reason: ” It is as if we were to say that why are we going to criminalize murder if there are people who murder. I know that fraud can be used, but companies must have a responsibility and users, a guarantee. ” For the president of the Association of Internet Users, when requesting the DNI, the risk to which we are exposed would be greater than the benefit that is achieved. The greatest of these dangers would be that such data would be leaked after a cyberattack, for example.
@FootNes, a 25-year-old tweeter who writes under a pseudonym especially about football and Real Madrid, would have some qualms about providing the DNI due to a privacy issue and because he perceives that Internet users are increasingly being asked for more personal data. Even so, he believes that it is necessary to take measures and recognizes that, if today his identity document were a condition to enter Twitter, he would accept it: ” It is free to insult or harass through the networks and there is a lot of facility to create accounts new ones (when someone is penalized for breaking the platform’s rules), ” he explains. Others lament and ironically about the proposal: “You will have to go with your ID in your mouth to write on Twitter,” wrote the user @ astr0l.
“Rafael Hernando” there are many
And it is @Rafa_Hernando you want to identify people on Twitter, I suggest you lead by example and post relevant information on your profile to identify them:
So we will know which one we talk to https://t.co/YGoduqBUFe
— Benicàssim (@twintesis) December 27, 2017
Juan (fictitious name), a 24-year-old user, acknowledges that he would have to accept the demand, but that it would condition his use of the network: “He would tweet in another way, as if it were more personal and less anonymous.” This user explains that he does not want to “leave a trace on the network” and defends the right to anonymity: “I do not want my statements on this network to harm me in the future.”
In the same way, @FootNes also distrusts the consequences that their activity on the network can have: ” You never know how certain opinions can penetrate and how they can affect you. For this reason, I prefer to remain anonymous, for a matter of security and that my face is not associated with certain things, ” he explains. Juan goes further: ” Twitter is a social network that depends on fleeting fashions and contexts, so explaining to someone in the future that this tweet is due to this reason is quite complicated. The same thing happens with the values, which change. I recently saw tweets from an account that I had as a teenager and had written certain things that I would now call retrograde. ”
Eva’s anonymity allows her activity on the platform not to affect her work, although the content she uploads is limited to Operación Triunfo and other hobbies. ” The students are sometimes a bit gossipy, ” he says. Added to that is parental pressure. Both she and @FootNes interact with both anonymous users and those who do show their image or give their real name. The second does not believe that this distinction influences their decision to follow them or not: ” I follow them because of what they write, because of how well I like them or because of the things we share, not because of the degree of exposure they are willing to assume ‘ ‘. However, there are users who do not trust those who choose to remain anonymous. @Errazkin explained this position online: ” Call me fussy, but I don’t do the same thing on Twitter to those who, like me, put affiliation and a real photo on their avatar as to those who don’t. The latter hide behind anonymity and lose credibility. ”
Twitter is about what you want it to be about. Let’s not forget that it is a social network, where you can be whoever you want to be and share ideas from anonymity or with the entire CV in front of you.
– Lau Chemistry. (@OxytocinLau) November 14, 2021
According to Borja Adsuara, an expert in Law, Strategy and Digital Communication, it is important that, even if the DNI were to be required one day, “ the principle of data minimization is taken seriously: you only have to ask for the essential information to provide a service”. Even so, Adsuara does not believe that providing the identity document poses a risk to the user, but that, as in medical research, the anonymity of the person can be maintained while the correspondence with their data is stored somewhere . The key would be that “someone has a table of equivalences somewhere”, which does not prevent the person from showing up with a pseudonym to other users and guaranteeing their privacy. The lawyer is confident that this intermediate solution is the most appropriate and insists that “when people talk about anonymity, they really mean pseudonymity. Being anonymous would be impunity and a rule of law cannot tolerate that there are spaces of impunity. ”
The user @Kaplan_GV assures on Twitter that “anonymity in the networks serves to express themselves more freely in an environment full of inquisitors who have made lynching and cancellation their way of acting.” However, it is precisely this conflictive environment that has developed over the years that worries the current that intends to implement more controls as regards identity.
For me the magic of Twitter is in the feeling of anonymity.
– LaJose (@joseTerzano) November 3, 2021
Twitter claims to take measures against accounts that violate the rules of use by asking the user to verify their ownership by means of a phone number or an email address, which can also help it to recognize Internet users who manage several accounts for abusive purposes. and, therefore, to take action. But for Senator Hernando it is not enough: ” Increasingly sophisticated tools are being used, such as robots, which we have seen generate false news and even influence electoral processes. What we want is that there is a social responsibility of the companies, which benefit from this traffic and value on the stock market. ”
The PP proposal in the Senate has not yet been processed, but Hernando trusts that “there is a social awareness in all political forces about the need to update in one way or another our legislation to combat anonymity, not as a form to protect freedom of expression, but as a shield against crime. ” Although no formation has yet been pronounced, in 2018, the then Unidos Podemos defended that the measure was “one more step to criminalize freedom of expression and violate fundamental rights.”
For the moment, the Charter of Digital Rights approved last July by the Government includes the right to pseudonymity and establishes that “ access to digital environments will be allowed under conditions of pseudonymity, as long as personal identification is not necessary. for the development of the tasks of said environment ”, in addition to the fact that the person may be re-identified by court order.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.