Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Night falls on Night Jack blog

A chill wind is blowing through the halls of anonymous blogdom, after the High Courts decision that the writer of Night Jack, an anonymous police blogger who told it like it was, did not have the right to prevent The Times naming him.

I am in two minds about this. On the one hand, if you are employed and want to say truths that your bosses would rather keep hidden, you really have to go anonymous. On the whole, despite the whistleblower legislation, whistleblowers do not have a good track record of keeping their jobs. However whistleblowers often perform a valuable function in bringing to light matters in the public interest, so on the whole they are a Good Thing.

On the other hand, anonymous blogging can allow people to say things, unpleasant things, which they would not normally do in their real name, using their cloak of anonymity to make malicious and untrue statements and spreading false rumours, perhaps for personal gain. I don’t know of any instances where this has actually happened but I can see the potential. In view of the fact that things tend to hang around on the internet, buried in the search engines, for a long time, this is definitely a Bad Thing.

So where does the public interest lie? I suppose really it is on the side of the anonymous bloggers. There are very many anonymous blogs out there, many of them legal blogs, which, as well as being informative, are very entertaining, and the blogosphere would be much a poorer place without them.

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