Anonymous Publication

Why it is important to allow anonymous publication

Comments compiled by David Week

The Supreme Court has affirmed the importance of anonymous publication:

“Anonymous pamphleteering is not a pernicious, fraudulent practice, but an honorable tradition of advocacy and dissent.” McIntyre v. Ohio Elections

Comm’n, 514 U.S. 334, 342 (1995)

Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation—and their ideas from suppression—at the hand of an intolerant society.

Pseudonymity allows people who are experimenting with different sorts of interests to do so without social repercussions. People can temporarily obscure their real life and play with a different conception of what their life might be.

You cannot have freedom of speech without the option to remain anonymous. Most censorship is retrospective, it is generally much easier to curtail free speech by punishing those who exercise it afterward, rather than preventing them from doing it in the first place. The only way to prevent this is to remain anonymous. It is a common misconception that you cannot trust anonymous information. This is not necessarily true, using digital signatures people can create a secure anonymous pseudonym which, in time, people can learn to trust. Freenet incorporates a mechanism called "subspaces" to facilitate this.

Journalists who use anonymous sources say that without the promise of confidentiality, sources in government and in other sensitive positions would be unwilling to provide information. As long as the media uses anonymous sources responsibly to produce accurate stories, the value of those stories should outweigh any concerns about where the information came from, free speech advocates say. The Post's use of anonymous sources in reports about the Watergate scandal that drove President Nixon from office often is cited as journalism that would have been impossible without confidentiality.


Anonymous speech has the potential to damage lives and careers.  Victims of that speech have little recourse, absent expensive litigation, to uncover the original speaker, to dispute the facts, to attack bias and (where appropriate) to seek redress for damation or libel.

The Subud Vision editors agree with the contra argument, and will certainly not allow anonymous libel or insult on the Subud Vision web site.