For the consideration of Mr. Jeff Bezos and the Amazon executive board:
The purpose of this petition is a showing of solidarity toward protecting the rights of individual privacy on Amazon.com, one of the largest retail websites and communities in the world.
Recently a petition was started requesting that users be forced to reveal their true identities on product reviews (specifically books), and within the Amazon forums. Its focus is purportedly centered on preventing online bullying and harassment, a worthy goal unto itself, but I feel this effort is entirely misguided in its purpose as well as completely overblown in scope.
While I agree that there is no excuse for criminal harassment and that those engaging in it should be prosecuted to the extent of the law, forcing all users to identify themselves proactively punishes the majority for the crimes of the few.
I, as do many others - authors, readers, and reviewers alike - feel that stripping a user of this privacy will have detrimental effects as a result of legitimate customers fearing that their opinions on such innocuous matters as reading preference could come back to haunt them in the form of the very harassment the original petition claims to be against.
Why should something as innocent as an online interaction give a person cause to be fearful that an angry ex-spouse could potentially discover their whereabouts, that a potential employer might snub them over their enjoyment of specific genres, or that others might track down and harass them in real life all because they dared to express an unpopular opinion? By seeking to abolish anonymity, those claiming to be against online bullying may instead end up fostering it.
Everyone’s opinions are valuable, but many have perfectly valid reasons for wishing to express those opinions without having a spotlight put upon themselves. Forcing them to choose between being on display for the world to see or remaining silent is wrong.
For as long as there has been the written word, authors such as myself have enjoyed the luxury of choice: publish under their real name or that of a pseudonym. Why should one side be allowed this privilege, while the other is not?
If you believe that online privacy is important to you and others, please sign the below and let Amazon and other online communities know your thoughts.