Transparency – Is Anonymity Worth the Price?

By: Katie Burch, J.D. Candidate ’14 | June 19, 2013

Transparency – Is anonymity worth the price?

Humans consume infinite amounts of information from books, news articles, social media, blogs, television, and much more. As the world becomes more literate, we humans cling to the veracity of this information as much as the source from which it comes.

But, what happens when the information is misleading—or even false? How would that affect our perceptions of the person or institution that provided us with it?

One such example of the endangerment of public trust was recently ignited over the National Security Agency’s (NSA) collection of citizen’s phone and internet data. The program was described by General Michael Hayden, deputy director of National Intelligence and a former NSA director, as “targeted and focused.” Controversy erupted, however, when Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the Central Intelligence Agency, leaked massive details to The Guardian and the Washington Post of a classified NSA mass surveillance program. The program has been vigorously defended by top military officials, who claim the limited actions were performed in order to thwart terrorist plots and do not infringe on civil liberties.

And while transparency in relation to National Security is one thing, when will society become concerned about the harm inflicted on consumers by the lack of transparency in a commercial market?

T.J. Fosko, author of “Buying a Lie: The Harms and Deceptions of Ghostwriting” explains the social and financial deceptions that arise when ghostwriting—the practice by which authorship of a work is intentionally attributed to a person who did not write it—is allowed to continue with virtually no legal repercussion. In his writing, Fosko delivers a compelling argument for a statutory solution in hopes of striking the right balance between protection of consumers and the rights and interests of authors and publishers.