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Re: sketching out HTTP 402 workflow

From: Steven Rowat <steven_rowat@sunshine.net>
Date: Mon, 27 Jul 2015 12:23:25 -0700
To: public-webpayments@w3.org
Message-ID: <55B6852D.9010000@sunshine.net>
On 7/27/15 1:11 AM, Melvin Carvalho wrote:
>     Is pseudo-anonymity possible (for the payee)?
> Great question.  I havent really thought this through.  But possibly
> yes.  How would you imagine pseudo-anonymity to work?

I learned the term on this list (or possibly the Credentials) and it 
seems a useful function -- both for me, who might use it, and for the 
benefit of society. I think it's been described on these lists 
somewhere, but I'll recap from my own perspective, because I think it 
has wide applications: people in difficult political situations, or 
people in difficult family or other social situations, often are 
prevented from speaking the truth by the fact that they'll face 
repercussions locally.

What I imagine for "pseudo-anonymity" is that a writer, researcher, or 
provider of any  information for sale online can use a pseudonym, and 
be paid for their work without being forced to divulge their legal 
identity, at least during standard sale interactions. Legal warrants 
would be an exception, hence the use of the meta-layer in the term, 
'pseudo'. At a lower level the legal name would be used, and could be 
verified -- but not at the payment level for people buying the work.

So, to turn to Dante and your example, let's say Dante is living in 
Rome and puts one of the Roman Senators, who Dante knows to be 
corrupt, into the lowest level of Hell and tells in detail what that 
Senator's crimes are. And suppose Dante puts this in an engaging work 
that people are willing to pay to read.

But, if they pay "Dante Alighieri" directly, as part of the online 
interaction, then the Senator can easily find who wrote it, and Dante 
or his family are visited in the middle of the night by thugs with 
masks on, carrying weapons.

If, however, Dante's work is published by "Luigi M", and the payment 
for the work goes to a private account for "Luigi M", which Dante has 
signing access to, then Dante is safe, and what he knows gets out into 
the wider world, for people to comment on, discuss, and use. 
Essentially, he's a protected whistleblower, and the same would hold 
for all sorts of crimes -- corporate and personal -- that might be 

If, on the other hand, the Senator (or corporate CEO, or parent in an 
abusive family, or whatever) knows that Dante is lying (or mistaken) 
about him (or her), then of course he/she can go to a court, get a 
charge of libel, and have a warrant issued. A judge will decide 
whether there's enough evidence to do that. If there is, Dante is 
unmasked and must face a libel court. If not, "Luigi M" still gets 
paid and Dante is safe, and the society finds out about the crimes.

I apologize if you knew all this and wanted feedback on how to achieve 
it in your 402 workflow.

If so, sorry, can't help you. ;-)

Except, perhaps, by encouraging you to do it. So I'll add: I think 
it's particularly important to have this option (pseudo-anonymity) for 
those telling about the most dangerous crimes, the most important 
truths, because these are the ones most likely to give rise to 
powerful attempts at local revenge and abuse to silence the messenger. 
If Dante calls the Senator a couch-potato, the Senator is not likely 
to do much. If Dante says the Senator took a million-Lira bribe and 
had another Senator assassinated, Dante will need to watch his back 
for the rest of his life.

These are the stories society needs most to know about, and it would 
be a loss if the teller is silenced by local action.

Received on Monday, 27 July 2015 19:23:56 UTC

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