Forbes’ article “Should Lying About Your Age On The Internet Be A Felony?” has concerned me if indeed this will be our Internet reality! Regardless of the content in Forbes’ article, because what I want to emphasize more is of the article’s title. I think it’s so important for people to be able to stay anonymous on the Internet at their choosing and choices. Why? I don’t think it’s wise for someone to go around on the Internet and declare their real ages and names and then what next? House address, phone numbers, and their social security number? OK, the social security number is an exaggeration on my part, but the whole idea is for one to be able to stay on the Internet anonymously.
We all knows how smart hackers are nowadays, and to stay not anonymously on the Internet is to invite hackers and other strangers to get to know you way better, but as we know hackers and strangers who do not have good intentions toward an individual can do real damage with real information. Of course, hackers and evil doers will have their own ways to acquire the personal/confidential information they need for them to carry out their agenda, but why should one make it easy for them to do so? So, should we the people at least allow to lie about our ages in ethical and acceptable ways? Sure, it’s easy for one to say one should not be on the Internet if one wants to lie about one’s age, but Internet nowadays is what people do! We can’t just conceitedly saying that people should not do Internet when one has to lie about one’s age even though they clearly can or need the Internet for various noble reasons!
What do I mean of lying about ages in ethical and acceptable ways? For an example, it’s illogical and illegal for one adult to pretend to be an eight year old child on the Internet no matter what noble intentions one has. It’s obviously unhealthy and dangerous for an adult as a stranger to pretend to be a child, because you never know a stranger as an adult can mislead a child in ways that are unethical and criminal. With that out of the way, it should be logical and safe for an adult to lie about his or her age on the Internet in ways that make sense. For an example, a stranger doesn’t have to declare his or her age as 39 but 25. After all, 25 is a legal age and this legal age can do almost anything as long it’s legal/legitimate (i.e., acceptable within laws) right?
So, I think the language of a law that will dictate how one should be prosecute in court for lying one’s age on the Internet should make sense and not to be strict to a point of impractical! I fear that we are too rigorous in controlling how Internet should be to a point that we all go down the road where unhealthy censorship makes it hard for Internet to thrive in general. I like Internet to be a place where creativity and positive social interactions thrive, but not let forget commons sense should thrive on the Internet too! The examples that I’d given of how one can lie about his or her age on the Internet certainly do make one thinks about common sense on the Internet, right? In the end, I do not know how the law will work, but I sure hope it will work in practical way for the Internet so the Internet will not be a place where idiotic lawsuits and unhealthy arguments will thrive.
To end this article, I want to say it clearly that I do not promote lying in anyway, whether that be in real life or on the Internet — but I prefer for one to be able to stay anonymous on the Internet, and whether that be for one to be able to choose a legitimate age, nickname, gender, fake address, fake phone numbers, and other personal information. Of course, one has to follow rules and policies of a web service one has joined, but it should not be a crime for one to stay anonymous even though it’s clearly going against the rules and policies of a web service. If a web service thinks it doesn’t like someone stays anonymous in its service, then it has the right to discontinue its service for such a person. It’s necessarily though to acknowledge that a web service isn’t a body of a government, and so it should not be able to insinuate a person as a criminal in anyway even though such a person has gone against its rules and policies. It’s obvious a person should be OK to go against a web service’s rules and policies as long he or she has not done anything wrong in the eyes of the real laws! An example would be for a person to stay anonymous!