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Slashdot: FreeNet’s Ian Clarke Answers Privacy Questions

“I’m all for an open forum for free speech, but this seems
almost reckless. In most venues of speech, accountability for
someone’s words is fundamental. The Internet has opened up the
possiblity of free speech without accountability to a small degree,
and look at what has happened. Do you fear any legal repercussions
to your group for creating this forum based on this fact?”

“Ian: Thanks for your question tcd004. The problem is that
it is sometimes impossible to have free speech unless it can be
delivered anonymously, since the threat of retribution can be a
very effective deterrent against people stating their opinions. I
would even go so far as to say that a forum which forced people to
identify themselves was not permitting true free speech
(This
is why Slashdot allows “Anonymous Cowards” to have their say). I
should further point out that there is no reason that people cannot
digitally sign information they place in Freenet to indicate that
they are the authors of a piece of information, but we don’t force
people to do that. Someone could even build up an anonymous
reputation by signing all of their work with the same private
key.”

“My personal feeling is that liable, and liable law, assumes
that people will believe everything they read. This might, to an
extent, be true in this time of centralized media, but my hope is
that systems like Freenet (and indeed SlashDot) will encourage
people to make judgments about the reliability of information
themselves rather than relying on a corruptible centralized
source.”

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