Anonymous – privacy protected?

So you use an anonymous handle or fake name and post comments all over the Internet safe in the expectation that no one will find out that it was you.

Beware! Your comments might come back to haunt you, just like they are haunting Darryl Moore, political candidate for Perth in Western Australia for the September 2013 election.

Over seven years ago he made some derogatory comments about commercial tenants in properties he was managing. He used a handle – Dazzling – and the political machine has tracked them down for the sole purpose of embarrassing him before the election.

So how secure is your identity and when are you going to get ‘found out’?

What is your risk and what are you doing to manage it?

Website owners and managers have a website privacy policy, hopefully supported by background procedures that help them to manage personal information. You might have noticed that some privacy policies contain a statement to say that your information will be disclosed in certain circumstances, like ‘according to law’.

There are a bunch of excuses in Privacy Law for the disclosure of personal information, including for the purpose of investigation by the police or other government authorities. I don’t know how the political machine tracked down ‘Dazzling’ and Mr Moore didn’t help himself by occasionally signing off with his real name – just keep in mind that any ill thought out comments or events from your past (and not necessarily your recent past) could come back and bite you.

I had an interesting conversation with a young lady who said she had spent 12 months actively removing her profile from the Internet. She had expended a great deal of time and money trying to ‘hide’ from the world after active involvement online.

Now I don’t know about you, but I am not sure I can member all the websites I have visited, where I have made comments and how many other publications, like newspapers, where my details might appear. there are around five different publications I have written for in the course of my legal career and when I was younger I used to get my photo in the paper from time to time after winning local swimming championships. There is simply more information out there than most people can keep track of. If you have every done an online search for someone you will know what I mean. On the other hand, there are some people who have never embraced the Internet and simply leave no footprints. Which are you?

What do you do? What is your experience? Have you ever used a firm that says they can remove your identity from the Internet, and what was your experience?

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