The Anonymity reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Anonymity

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Anonymity is the state of a person being anonymous, i.e. the identity of the person is not known. This may be simply because the person was not asked, as in an occasional encounter between strangers, or because the person is unable or unwilling to tell.

For example, this may apply to victims of crime and war, whose identity could not be recognized.

Disguising one's identity may also be by choice, for legitimate reasons such as privacy and, in some occasions, personal safety. Criminals usually prefer to stay anonymous, such as when writing a letter with a threat or demand.

In a large city there is more anonymity than in a village. People may consider this to be an advantage or a disadvantage.

Anonymous works have no known author. They may be products of a folk tradition, handed down orally; or it may be that the data concerning the name of an author has been lost or intentionally withheld.

Anonymity and the Internet

During the late 20th century, the internet has made anonymous publication significantly easier, however development of methods of surveillance, and in particular the spread of Internet communication opens unprecedented powers of computer surveillance. Anonymous and pseudonymous remailers use cryptography to make it extremely difficult to link the real identity of the sender to the message. There are also network protocols designed primarily with the purpose of allowing unrestricted anonymous publication in data havens, such as Freenet.

Recent advances in computer-based text analysis, however, have the potential to identify the authors of anonymous works. The future ability of anonymity methods to counter such techniques is unknown.

See also List of anonymously published works, Anonymous_P2P, Pseudonymity, Strong anonymity, John Doe, Crypto-anarchism.