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What is the new 'right to pseudonymity' included in the draft of the Digital Rights Charter



Yesterday, the Government officially presented the first draft of its proposal for a Charter of Digital Rights, a text called to be incorporated into an organic law if it manages to garner the mandatory parliamentary support.



Among the multiple measures included in the document, a new digital law appears based on a novel concept: pseudonymity. The reception of it by many users on social networks was strange and skeptical because, certainly, it could sound like a mere "false anonymity.



Let's first look at the references to this right within the draft of the Charter:




  1. "According to the technical possibilities available, digital environments will allow access under pseudonymity conditions."

  2. "The design of the pseudonymity referred to in the preceding paragraph will ensure the possibility of reidentifying people in the cases and with the guarantees provided by the legal system."



But the point is that this concept does not come 'out of nowhere': There is already a Spanish regulation in which, although there is no talk of 'pseudonymization', it does address 'pseudonymization'.







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According to the General Data Protection Regulation, this is defined as




"The processing of personal data in such a way that they can no longer be attributed to an interested party without using additional information, provided that said additional information appears separately and is subject to technical and organizational measures designed to ensure that personal data is not attributed to a identified or identifiable natural person ".




Borja Adsuara, concept lawyer



But, focusing on the pseudonymity itself, talking about this idea is also talking about Borja Adsuara, an expert in digital law who has participated in the drafting of all Spanish laws related to this field since 1992 (and who has held positions such as CEO of Red.es).



Adsuara is the person who has been claiming and popularizing the concept of pseudonymity for several years And, of course, he has been one of the speakers of the working groups that have helped shape the Bill of Digital Rights.




In the video that includes the public presentation of the document, Adsuara himself intervenes to explain the introduction of this right:










"Closely linked to the right to identity in the digital environment is the right to pseudonymity, [pero] We wanted to highlight it especially because some want to suppress the ability to enter a social network using a pseudonym, which could affect the freedom of expression of many people.



Pseudonymity is not exactly the same as anonymity, although this is an open debate and other opinions will emerge during the public consultation. [...] It seems to us that it is progress, but what it cannot be is understanding anonymity as a space of impunity: a crime must be investigated. "





In a 2016 tweet, Adsuara summarized the concept: "Anonymity should not be confused with impunity. Right to pseudonymity, which is raised in order to investigate a crime."




Adsuara had an impact on this idea yesterday when he answered users who questioned the scope of this new right, clarifying that for him




"the right to pseudonymity is a first conquest [...] it must be defended as a guarantee of freedom of expression, and it can only be raised by a judge in the investigation of a crime. "








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Seven years ago he was already talking about 'pseudonymity' on his blog, making it clear that in his opinion that 'right' could already be defended then. based on other well-established ones such as privacy and secrecy of communications, while that of anonymity "does not appear anywhere in our legal system".



Perhaps the key lies in the end in which, whether or not the concept of pseudonymity as a right seems insufficient, this can be useful for two to clarify two fundamental data for the debate on privacy on the Internet:



  • That many advocates of diffuse 'anonymity' actually They have been defending pseudonymity for years without knowing it.


  • That, semantic debate aside, if the user does not take the appropriate measures, the reality is that their actions and words can be tracked thanks to Internet traceability.





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